SCOTT v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/16/2017. (rtm, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
TREMAINE R. SCOTT,
No. 16-cv-07760 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Tremaine R. Scott, Plaintiff Pro Se
2902 North Congress Road
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
By Complaint dated October 24, 2016, Plaintiff
Tremaine R. Scott sought to bring a civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Jail (“CCJ”) for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint,
Docket Entry 1 (“Original Complaint”), § III(A). The Complaint
stated in its entirety: “Stripped search [sic][.] Slept on hard
floor.” 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 3, 2017 (Docket Entry 4 (“Dismissal Order”)): (a)
dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff’s claims against the Camden
County Jail; and (b) dismissed without prejudice Plaintiff’s
claims alleging constitutional violations as to conditions of
The March 3, 2017 dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim
against the Camden County Jail was with prejudice because, as
explained in this Court’s 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
10, at 5-6 (“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 3, 2017 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 (“strip search. Slept on hard
floor” (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 12-13.
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 May 9, 2017, Plaintiff submitted an Amended
Complaint, again asserting claims arising from incarceration at
“Camden County Jail” (Docket Entry 5 (“Amended Complaint”) at §
III(A)), but differing slightly from the Original Complaint as
to conditions of confinement facts and alleged injuries.
Plaintiff states in his amended complaint: “Defendant was
arrested and held at CCJ [.] Place to sleep on floor w/ 3 to 4
other inmates. Also, was stripped search.” Amended Complaint,
Docket Entry 5, § III(C). Original Complaint, § III(C).
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 May 9, 2017 Amended Complaint is insufficient to
constitute an amended complaint that survives this Court’s
review under § 1915.
First, Plaintiff still asserts Camden County Jail as
the defendant in his action. As the Court stated in its opinion
dismissing claims against this defendant with prejudice, the 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
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 that provided by Plaintiff. 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 March 3, 2017 Dismissal
Order to submit a complaint that meets the requisite pleading
standards, and given Plaintiff’s inability in the May 9, 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 defendants; (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
An appropriate order follows.
August 16, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?