BULLARD v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/1/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
No. 16-cv-07454 (JBS-AMD)
Bruce Bullard, Plaintiff Pro Se
2011 Ferry Avenue, Apt. H-1
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Bruce Bullard seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New
Jersey for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review
complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts must sua sponte dismiss any
claim that is frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from
a defendant who is immune from such relief. This action is
subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
the State of New Jersey because Congress did not expressly
abrogate sovereign immunity when it passed § 1983; and (2)
dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a
claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
First, Plaintiff’s claims against the State of New
Jersey must be dismissed with prejudice based on the Eleventh
Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides:
“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed
to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted
against one of the United States by Citizens of another State,
or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const.
amend. XI. Plaintiff may not bring a suit against the State in
federal court unless Congress has expressly abrogated New
Jersey's sovereign immunity or the State consents to being sued
in federal court. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 66 (1989). Here, Congress did not expressly abrogate
sovereign immunity when it passed § 1983, see id., and there is
no indication New Jersey has consented to Plaintiff's suit. The
claims against the State of New Jersey must be dismissed with
Second, for the reasons set forth below, the Court
will dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to
state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). The present
Complaint does not allege sufficient facts to support a
reasonable inference that a constitutional violation has
occurred in order to survive this Court’s review under § 1915.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to
show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308
n.3 (3d Cir. 2014). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)).
Plaintiff alleges: “I had to sleep on the floor, had
back pains, shoulder pains, [and] ansomia [sic].” Complaint §
Plaintiff states that these events occurred: “October
6, 2015 – November 13, 2015.” Id. § III(B).
With respect to alleged injuries from these events,
Plaintiff claims to have been “step[ped] on in the middle of the
night, got a cold, num[b]ness in my hands, got treated for cold,
pain, an[x]iety.” Id. § IV.
Plaintiff “would like to be compensated for what the
courts fe[e]l is approp[r]iate, that’s all.” Id. § V.
Even accepting these statements as true for screening
purposes only, there is not enough factual support for the Court
to infer that a constitutional violation has occurred.
The mere fact that an individual is lodged temporarily
in a cell with more persons than its intended design does not
rise to the level of a constitutional violation. See Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 348–50 (1981) (holding double-celling by
itself did not violate Eighth Amendment); Carson v. Mulvihill,
488 F. App'x 554, 560 (3d Cir. 2012) (“[M]ere double-bunking
does not constitute punishment, because there is no ‘one man,
one cell principle lurking in the Due Process Clause of the
Fifth Amendment.’” (quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 542
(1979))). More is needed to demonstrate that such crowded
conditions, for a pretrial detainee, shocks the conscience and
thus violates due process rights. See Hubbard v. Taylor, 538
F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (noting due process analysis
requires courts to consider whether the totality of the
conditions “cause inmates to endure such genuine privations and
hardship over an extended period of time, that the adverse
conditions become excessive in relation to the purposes assigned
As Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to
address the deficiencies noted above, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend within 30 days of the date of this
In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint,
Plaintiff should include specific facts, such as the dates and
length of confinement, whether Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee
or convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were
involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of
confinement, and any other relevant facts regarding the
conditions of confinement.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint
is filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is specifically
incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d ed. 1990) (footnotes
omitted). An amended complaint may adopt some or all of the
allegations in the original complaint, but the identification of
the particular allegations to be adopted must be clear and
explicit. Id. To avoid confusion, the safer course is to file an
amended complaint that is complete in itself.1 Id.
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The
Court will reopen the matter in the event Plaintiff files an
amended complaint within the time allotted by the Court.
An appropriate order follows.
March 1, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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