MERCED CABEZA v. NO DEFENDANT LISTED
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/28/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CARLOS I. MERCED CABEZA,
(NO DEFENDANT LISTED).
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-07808 (JBS-AMD)
Carlos I. Merced Cabeza
Plaintiff Pro Se
1536 Gross Avenue
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
The Court at this time construes Plaintiff Carlos I.
Merced Cabeza’s Complaint as purportedly seeking to bring a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement, as
explained more fully below. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Plaintiff
does not name a defendant in the caption or in § I(B) of his
Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-
134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996)
(“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints prior to
service in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding
in forma pauperis (see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)), seeks redress
against a governmental employee or entity (see 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions
(see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e). The PLRA directs district courts to 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
claim1, 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
“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the
same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Samuels v. Health Dep’t, No. 161289, 2017 WL 26884, slip op. at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 3, 2017)
(citing Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App’x 120, 122 (3d Cir.
2012)); Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000));
Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App’x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States,
287 F. App’x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. §
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)). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally
construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts
in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted) (emphasis added).
Statements In The Complaint
Plaintiff’s Complaint states: “In the 20 of Aprill I
went to jaill to and I was sleeping in the floor for the and
went I went to take a took me to coort and they not find guyty
becose I no find me lost a lot of way and lost slee a ma fray to
sleep [sic].” Complaint at 1. The Complaint alleges that
Plaintiff “was sleeping for 30 a mi cell witch 3 more intake.”
Id. § II(B).
With respect to the location(s) of the events giving
rise to his allegations, Plaintiff states: “Bad food, shower,
recreation, no time in teleton [sic] and only few fine [sic].”
Id. § III(A).
With respect to the date(s) and time(s) of these
events, Plaintiff states: “Fithing, no cleaning[.] We have to
shave a 12 midnight[.] The guard treat us like animals[.] Seat
more than 20 a cell like for se de dentis or the doctor [sic].”
Id. § II(B).
With respect to the facts giving rise to his
allegations, Plaintiff states: “Wife have roachs, rats[.] The
food is a done the same every the ware presure is to strong you
ha and with have to wash close a shave a mia.” Id. § III(C).
For his statement of claim with respect to persons
involved in these alleged events, Plaintiff states: “no body do
nothing in this cases they. Everybody was invol on this sargen
bing rans superintendentel [sic]. The some the true me in the
cell de give my a matrres and they tolk tome be cometebold in
the comecretne the some was us my inmate paid live[.]” Id. §
With respect to alleged injuries from these purported
events, Plaintiff claims to have “fractu[r]ed my right left in
shower and fractuded my left hand,” for which he was taken “to
infermeria [sic].” Id. § IV.
With respect to requested relief, Plaintiff seeks
“[$]10,000 the food was awful[,] sleep in floor mor 2 months and
de guard [sic].” Id. § V.
Failure To Satisfy The Pleading Requirements of
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1)-(3)
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires pleadings to contain “a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . .
a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief; and demand for the relief sought . . . .”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1)-(3).
Pro se complaints are construed liberally and are held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nevertheless, pro se litigants
must still allege facts, taken as true, to suggest the required
elements of the claims asserted. Phillips v. County of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008); McNeil v. United
States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e have never suggested
that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
Here, however, Plaintiff’s handwritten Complaint fails
to set forth comprehensible statements that specify any
particular cause of action or factual allegations in the first
The only coherent statement in Plaintiff's Complaint
with respect to a claim allegation appears to suggest that he
slept on the floor while incarcerated. Complaint at 1 and § V
(“I was sleeping in the floor. . . Sleep in floor”). However,
Plaintiff does not indicate when these incidents happened or
where they happened.
In addition, even if Plaintiff’s statements were
liberally read to allege unconstitutional prison overcrowding in
connection with Plaintiff “sleeping in the floor” (Complaint at
1), the Complaint is silent with respect to the persons against
whom Plaintiff asserts such claims. Accordingly, the Court
cannot discern what cause(s) of action Plaintiff intends to
pursue against any particular person(s). Complaint § III(C) (“no
body do nothing in this cases they[.] Everybody was invol on
this sargen bing rans superintendentel [sic]”).
The incomprehensible balance of contentions in the
Complaint does not remedy these omissions. See, e.g., Complaint
§ III(C) (“Wife have roachs, rate[.] The food is a done the same
every the ware presure is to strong you ha and with have to wash
close a shave a mia [sic]”).
Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint lacks
sufficient factual allegations to support what the Court can
only assume is an assertion that Plaintiff experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement while incarcerated.
Plaintiff's Complaint thus fails to comply with Fed.
R. Civ. P. 8(a): the requirement that the Plaintiff provide his
intended defendant(s) with fair notice of his claims and the
grounds upon which they rest. While Plaintiff may claim some
form of actionable conditions of confinement that entitle him to
relief, he provides no specifics. Plaintiff has not provided any
comprehensible information to demonstrate alleged unlawful
conduct. “[W]ithout some factual allegation in the complaint, a
claimant cannot satisfy the requirement that he or she provide
not only ‘fair notice,’ but also the ‘grounds' on which the
claim rests.” Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 (determining that Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) focuses on
the “context” of the required short, plain statement and that
fair notice under Rule 8(a)(2) for some complaints requires at
least some factual allegations to make out a “showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant
fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which
Recognizing that Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, and
even construing the Complaint liberally, its contents do not
contain comprehensible statements that articulate a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
Failure to State A Claim
Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), a complaint
must allege “sufficient factual matter” to show that the claim
is facially plausible in order to survive sua sponte screening
for failure to state a claim. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. In other
words, a 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.
Here, even construing the Complaint as seeking to
bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged prison overcrowding in connection with Plaintiff
“sleeping in the floor” (Complaint at 1), any such purported
claims must be dismissed because 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 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 to them.”).
Some relevant factors are the length of the
confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were involved
in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of confinement,
any other relevant facts regarding the conditions of
Leave To Amend
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to: (a)
articulate comprehensible statements that set forth a claim upon
which relief can be granted, along with the particular identity
of the person(s) against whom such claims are asserted; and (b)
particularly identify adverse conditions that were caused by
specific state actors, that caused Plaintiff to endure genuine
privations and hardship over an extended period of time, and
that were excessive in relation to their purposes. To that end,
the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint
within 30 days of the date of this order.2
Plaintiff is further advised that any amended
complaint must plead specific facts regarding the conditions of
confinement. In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint,
Plaintiff 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.
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.
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
March 28, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief 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?