GARRETT v. CAMDEN COUNTY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/1/2017. (dmr)(n.m.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-7737 (JBS-AMD)
Ernestine Garrett, Plaintiff Pro Se
433 N. 7th Street, Apt. 16F
Camden, New Jersey 08102
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Ernestine Garrett seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff’s
affidavit of indigency, the Court will grant her application to
proceed in forma pauperis.
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 with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C.
Plaintiff alleges that in 1999, she was detained in the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) and required to
sleep on the floor during her detention. Complaint § III. In
addition to her complaint, plaintiff submitted her Inmate
Recidivism History which indicates she was also detained in 2001
and 2007. Inmate Recidivism Sheet, Docket Entry 1-2.
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)
because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
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) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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 seeks monetary damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the CCCF that she
experienced in 1999. Plaintiff’s complaint is barred by the
statute of limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's twoyear 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).
“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).
“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 states she was detained in 1999. The
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCCF
would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of
her detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for
Plaintiff’s claims expired in 2001 at the latest. As Plaintiff
was also detained in 2001 and 2007 per the Inmate Recidivism
History she provided with her complaint, it is worth noting that
any allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement that
may have occurred during those detentions are also barred by the
statute of limitations and Plaintiff would have had to have
filed her complaint in 2009 at the latest. As there are no
grounds for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations,2 the
complaint will be dismissed 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
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
162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Santos ex rel. Beato v. United
States, 559 F.3d 189, 197 (3d Cir. 2009)).
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed with
prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order
February 1, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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