LAND v. OWENS et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/22/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
WARDEN DAVID OWENS;
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
No. 16-cv-07734 (JBS-AMD)
Robert Land, Plaintiff Pro Se
Camden County Correctional Facility
330 Federal Street
Camden, NJ 08102
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
By Complaint dated October 24, 2016, Plaintiff Robert
Land 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 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
March 30, 2017 (Docket Entry 4 (“Dismissal Order”)): (a)
dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff’s claims against the
defendant Camden County Jail; and (b) dismissed without
prejudice Plaintiff’s claims against the Warden Owens.
The March 30, 2017 dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim
against the Camden County Jail was with prejudice because, as
explained in this Court’s March 30, 2017 Opinion that
accompanied the Dismissal Order, Camden County Jail is not a
“state actor” subject to liability within the meaning of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Docket Entry 3, at 4 (“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 § 1983)).
The March 30 dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims against
the Warden was without prejudice because, even accepting the
statements in § III of Plaintiff’s Complaint as true for
screening purposes only (“sleeping on the floor with two other
inmates” (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 3-5.
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 due process claim.
On May 3, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a letter as an
Amended Complaint which states, “With exception of actual
damages, my resubmission document should be considered exactly
the same as my original submission, nothing regarding my times
of incarceration or the defendants in my case is different.”
Amended Complaint, Docket Entry 5.
The amended complaint does not address the
deficiencies noted by the Court but rather directs the Court to
look at Plaintiff’s original complaint, which was already
dismissed by this Court. Therefore, this amended complaint must
be dismissed as the original complaint, as it fails to state a
claim upon which relief could be granted.
This Court will afford Plaintiff one more opportunity
to amend his complaint within 30 days of the date of this order.1
In his amended complaint Plaintiff stated, “there was no
specific format specified for a resubmission document” and
Plaintiff is again advised that the amended complaint
must plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference
that a constitutional violation has occurred in order to survive
this Court’s review under § 1915.
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[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
that forms were requested and not supplied by the Clerk.
The Court will direct the Clerk to send Plaintiff a blank
complaint, DNJ-ProSe-006 (Rev. 05-2013).
to them.”). Some relevant factors are the dates and length of
the confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, etc.
As Plaintiff may yet be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court once more
shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30
days of the date of this order. However, this shall be
Plaintiff’s final opportunity to amend the complaint for
screening purposes. If Plaintiff elects to amend a second time
and the second amended complaint is insufficient to survive the
Court’s review under § 1915, the complaint will be dismissed
with prejudice, meaning that Plaintiff will not be granted leave
to amend a third time.
Plaintiff is reminded that when an amended complaint
is filed, any previous complaints no longer perform 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 prior 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.
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 against the Warden, for
failure to state a claim; and (c) the Amended Complaint is
dismissed with prejudice in its entirety, for failure to state a
An appropriate order follows.
August 22, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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