LAND v. OWENS et al
OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/30/17. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-07734 (JBS-AMD)
MR. DAVID OWENS (WARDEN);
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Robert Land, Plaintiff Pro Se
Camden County Correctional Facility
330 Federal Street
Camden, NJ 08102
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Robert Land, a prisoner confined at Camden County
Jail (“CCJ”), seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant
to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the CCJ warden, David Owens.
Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be
dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
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).
Plaintiff seeks relief for allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement during his detention in the CCJ. He
states has been sleeping on the floor of the cell since May 2016
due to there being two other inmates in the cell with him.
Complaint ¶ 6. He alleges the order came directly from Warden
Owens and if he “didn’t comply with that order, the consequence
would be going to lock-up.” Id. He also indicates that he has to
wake up during the night and move from his position on the floor
in order that his cellmates may use the toilet. Id.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 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 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)
and 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e because Plaintiff is a prisoner
proceeding in forma pauperis and is filing a claim about the
conditions of his confinement.
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 raises claims of unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Accepting the allegations in the complaint as true
for purposes of screening only, the fact that Plaintiff slept on
the floor for roughly five months does not in and of itself
violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See
Hubbard v. Taylor, 538 F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (noting that
requiring pretrial detainees to sleep on a mattress on the floor
of cells for a period of three to seven months did not violate
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights). “[T]he Constitution
does not mandate comfortable prisons[.]” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 349 (1981). The Due Process Clause is only violated
when the totality of the 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.” Id. (internal citation and
quotation marks omitted). Sleeping on the floor, while
undoubtedly uncomfortable, is not enough by itself to make out a
constitutional violation. The present complaint does not allege
sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that the
totality of the conditions at CCJ are punitive in nature.
Plaintiff must provide other facts about the conditions at CCJ
before his complaint may proceed. The claims against Warden
Owens are dismissed without prejudice, 1 but Plaintiff shall be
given leave to amend his complaint as he may be able to provide
facts supporting a due process claim.
As Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to address
the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint within 30 days of the
The claims made against CCJ are dismissed with prejudice as it
is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983. 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).
date of this order. 2 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. Id.
The amended complaint may not adopt or repeat claims that have
been dismissed with prejudice by the Court.
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate
March 30, 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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