COOMBS JOHNSON v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/2/17. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
LEONYA COOMBS JOHNSON,
No. 16-cv-7644 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Leonya Coombs Johnson, Plaintiff Pro Se
2111 Westminster Avenue
Camden, NJ 08105
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Leonya Coombs Johnson seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint against Camden County Jail (“CCJ”) pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints
prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in
forma pauperis. 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 Section 1915(e)(2)(B)
because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the
Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C.
With respect to factual allegations giving rise to her
claims, Plaintiff states: “I was arrested [and] [o]nce I was
taken upstairs I was placed to sleep on the floor near the
toilet.” Complaint § III(C).
Plaintiff alleges that these events occurred: “2009 or
2010.” Id. § III(B).
The Complaint states that Plaintiff’s “bad back and neck”
suffered from these events. Id. § IV.
Plaintiff seeks “to be compensated [in] the amount the
Court thinks I deserve for sleeping on the floor of a[n]
overcrowded jail.” Id. § V.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
To survive sua sponte screening under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) for failure to state a claim, a 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 asserts claims against CCJ for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The Complaint must
be dismissed for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
First, the Complaint must be dismissed as CCJ is not a
“state actor” within the meaning of § 1983. See, e.g., Grabow v.
Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J.
1989) (correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983).
Accordingly, the claims against CCJ must be dismissed with
Second, “plaintiffs who file complaints subject to
dismissal should receive leave to amend unless amendment would
be inequitable under [§ 1915] or futile.” Grayson v. Mayview
State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002). This Court denies
leave to amend at this time as Plaintiff’s Complaint is barred
by the statute of limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's
two-year limitations period for personal injury.1 See Wilson v.
Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J. State Police,
603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The accrual date of a § 1983
action is determined by federal law, however. Wallace v. Kato,
549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr.,
773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014). “Under federal law, a cause of
action accrues when the plaintiff knew or should have known of
the injury upon which the action is based.” Montanez, 773 F.3d
at 480 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff alleges that the events giving rise to her claims
occurred: “2009 or 2010.” Complaint § III(B). The allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ would have
been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of detention.
Accordingly, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff’s claims
expired in 2012. As there are no grounds for equitable tolling
of the statute of limitations,2 the Complaint will be dismissed
“Although the running of the statute of limitations is
ordinarily an affirmative defense, where that defense is obvious
from the face of the complaint and no development of the record
is necessary, a court may dismiss a time-barred complaint sua
sponte under § 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to
state a claim.” Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 111–12
(3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam).
2 Equitable tolling “is only appropriate ‘(1) where the defendant
has actively misled the plaintiff respecting the plaintiff's
cause of action; (2) where the plaintiff in some extraordinary
way has been prevented from asserting his or her rights; or (3)
where the plaintiff has timely asserted his or her rights
mistakenly in the wrong forum.’” Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x
with prejudice. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 112
(3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal with prejudice
due to expiration of statute of limitations).
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is dismissed
with prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate
March 2, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Santos ex rel. Beato v. United
States, 559 F.3d 189, 197 (3d Cir. 2009)).
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