RODGERS v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/7/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
DENYELL MARSHEE RODGERS,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-07525 (JBS-AMD)
Denyell Marshee Rodgers, Plaintiff Pro Se
828 Elm Street
Camden, NJ 08102
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
By Complaint dated October 18, 2016, Plaintiff Denyell
Marshee Rodgers sought to bring a civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1 (“Original Complaint”), §
III(A). The Complaint stated in its entirety: “I was made to
sleep on the floor of the jail” (id. § III(C)) at “Camden County
Correctional Facility” (id. § III(A)) during “year of 2012 as
well as 2016.” Id. § III(B).
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No.
104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77, requires a
court to review complaints prior to service in cases in which a
plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). The Court 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.
In accordance with these directives of the PLRA, this
Court undertook the requisite screening and, by Order dated
February 24, 2017 (Docket Entry 4 (“Dismissal Order”)): (a)
dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff’s claims against the
defendant correctional facility; and (b) dismissed without
prejudice Plaintiff’s claims alleging constitutional violations
as to conditions of confinement.
The February 24 dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim against
the correctional was with prejudice because, as explained in
this Court’s February 24, 2017 Opinion that accompanied the
Dismissal Order, correctional facilities are not “state actors”
subject to liability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Docket Entry 3, at 2 (“Dismissal Opinion”) (citing Crawford v.
McMillian, 660 F. App’x 113, 116 (3d Cir. 2016) (“[T]he prison
is not an entity subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”)
(citing Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973));
Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 538–
39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a “person” under
The February 24 dismissal of Plaintiff’s conditions of
confinement claim was without prejudice because, even accepting
the statements in § III of Plaintiff’s Complaint as true for
screening purposes only (“I was made to sleep on the floor of
the jail” (Original Complaint § III(C)), there was not enough
factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional
violation had occurred in connection with Plaintiff’s
incarceration. Dismissal Opinion at 4-5.
The Dismissal Order granted Plaintiff leave to amend
the Complaint within 30 days of the date of the Dismissal Order
to plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that
a constitutional violation occurred during his confinement, such
as: adverse conditions that were caused by specific state
actors; adverse conditions that caused Plaintiff to endure
genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time;
or adverse conditions that were excessive in relation to their
On March 22, 2017, Plaintiff submitted an Amended
Complaint, again asserting claims arising from incarceration at
“Camden County Correctional Facility” (Docket Entry 5 (“Amended
Complaint”) at § III(A)), but differing from the Original
Complaint as to conditions of confinement facts and alleged
a. First, as to conditions of confinement facts, the
Amended Complaint contends that Plaintiff: (i) was
“not supplied with an ind[i]gent packet” during “7 day
lockdown for 23 hours per day”; (ii) “wasn’t supplied
with any form of washcloth to shower with so I had no
way of keeping up with my hygiene during this time”;
(iii) “was not given any toilet paper”; and (iv) “had
no soap.” Amended Complaint, Docket Entry 5, §
III(C). Unlike the Original Complaint, the Amended
Complaint contains no allegations concerning Plaintiff
being “made to sleep on the floor” while incarcerated.
Original Complaint, § III(C). In short, the Amended
Complaint does not adopt the allegations in the
Original Complaint as to conditions of confinement
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint also differs from the Original
Complaint with respect to dates, which the Court construes as
Plaintiff’s recognition of footnote 3 in the Court’s Dismissal
Opinion regarding the applicable two-year statute of
limitations. Specifically, the Amended Complaint contends that
the events giving rise to Plaintiff’s claims occurred “4/2016
[during] first seven days of a 14 day [i]ncarceration period.”
Amended Complaint § III(B). The Original Complaint had alleged
that the events occurred “year of 2012 as well as 2016.”
Original Complaint § III(B).
b. Second, as to alleged injuries, the Amended Complaint
contends that Plaintiff “sustained a rash on bottom
and private area that was later treated with a vaginal
cream.” Amended Complaint § IV. Plaintiff denied
sustaining any injuries in the Original Complaint.
Original Complaint § IV (“N/A”). In short, the Amended
Complaint does not adopt the allegations in the
Original Complaint as to Plaintiff’s purported
In accordance with the directives of the PLRA, the
Court must now screen the Amended Complaint to dismiss any claim
that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit.
Pursuant to this mandate of the PLRA, the Court now finds that
Plaintiff’s March 22, 2017 Amended Complaint is insufficient to
constitute an amended complaint that survives this Court’s
review under § 1915.
First, whether referred to as “Camden County
Correctional Facility” (Docket Entry 1 § III(A); Docket Entry 5
at 1; Docket Entry 5 § I(B)) or “Camden County Jail” (Docket
Entry 1 § I(B)), Plaintiff’s claims against the defendant
correctional facility where Plaintiff was incarcerated cannot
survive dismissal with prejudice.
In order to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983,
a plaintiff must show: “(1) a person deprived him of a federal
right; and (2) the person who deprived him of that right acted
under color of state or territorial law.” Groman v. Twp. of
Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)).
Generally, for purposes of actions under § 1983,
“[t]he term ‘persons’ includes local and state officers acting
under color of state law.” Carver v. Foerster, 102 F.3d 96, 99
(3d Cir. 1996) (citing Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991)).2 To
say that a person was “acting under color of state law” means
that the defendant in a § 1983 action “exercised power [that the
defendant] possessed by virtue of state law and made possible
only because the wrongdoer [was] clothed with the authority of
state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988) (citation
omitted). Generally, then, “a public employee acts under color
of state law while acting in his official capacity or while
exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.” Id.
“Person” is not strictly limited to individuals who are state
and local government employees, however. For example,
municipalities and other local government units, such as
counties, also are considered “persons” for purposes of § 1983.
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
Because neither the Original Complaint nor the
proposed Amended Complaint have sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right, neither the
Original Complaint nor the proposed Amended Complaint meet the
standards necessary to set forth a prima facie case under
§ 1983. As explained above and also in this Court’s February 24
Dismissal Opinion, neither the Camden County Correctional
Facility (“CCCF”) nor the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”) are
“persons” within the meaning of § 1983.
Therefore, any and all claims against either or both
correctional entities must be dismissed with prejudice. See
Crawford v. McMillian, 660 F. App’x 113, 116 (3d Cir. 2016)
(“[T]he prison is not an entity subject to suit under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983.”) (citing Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir.
1973)); Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp.
537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a
“person” under § 1983).
Given that claims against either or both entities must
be dismissed with prejudice, such claims may not proceed and
Plaintiff may not name either CCCF or CCJ as a defendant.
Second, like the Original Complaint, the Amended
Complaint still does not set forth sufficient factual support
for the Court to infer that a constitutional violation has
occurred as to conditions of confinement.
Due process analysis requires courts to consider
whether the totality of confinement conditions “cause[s] 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 to them.” Hubbard v. Taylor,
538 F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Due process protections
“secure the individual from the arbitrary exercise of the powers
of government, unrestrained by the established principles of
private right and distributive justice.” Hurtado v. California,
110 U.S. 516, 527 (1884). “[O]nly the most egregious official
conduct can be said to be ‘arbitrary in the constitutional
sense,’ Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 129
(1992), thereby recognizing the point made by Chief Justice
Marshall, that ‘it is a constitution we are expounding,’ Daniels
v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 332 (1985) (quoting M'Culloch v.
Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) (emphasis in original)).” City of
Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 846 (1998).
Furthermore, the Constitution “does not mandate
comfortable prisons.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349
Accordingly, to demonstrate that purportedly crowded
incarceration conditions of a pretrial detainee shock the
conscience and thus violate due process rights, more is
necessary than, such as Plaintiff herein alleges, simply “not
[being] supplied with an ind[i]gent packet [of] . . . postcards”
or “[not being] supplied with any form of washcloth.” Amended
Complaint § III(C). Thus, the Amended Complaint does not cure
the pleading defects in the Original Complaint as to Plaintiff’s
condition of confinement claims.
Therefore, even liberally construing the Complaint and
the Amended Complaint as this Court is required to do, Mala v.
Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013),
Plaintiff has still failed to plead sufficient facts to support
a reasonable inference that a constitutional violation occurred
during his incarceration in order to survive this Court’s review
under § 1915.
In light of the opportunity that has already been
afforded to Plaintiff by this Court’s February 24, 2017
Dismissal Order to submit a complaint that meets the requisite
pleading standards, and given Plaintiff’s inability in the March
22, 2017 Amended Complaint to allege facts sufficient to survive
§ 1915 review, the Court concludes that permitting further
amendment would be futile and hereby dismisses the entirety of
all claims in both the Original Complaint and in the Amended
Complaint with prejudice. See Hoffenberg v. Bumb, 446 F. App'x
394, 399 (3d Cir. 2011); Rhett v. N.J. State Superior Court, 260
F. App'x 513, 516 (3d Cir. 2008) (affirming dismissal with
prejudice after District Court gave pro se plaintiff several
opportunities to comply with Rule 8).
For the reasons stated above: (a) the Complaint
remains dismissed with prejudice as to Plaintiff’s claims
against the correctional facility defendant; (b) the Complaint
is dismissed with prejudice as to claims concerning conditions
of confinement, for failure to state a claim; and (c) the
Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice in its entirety,
for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
April 7, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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