CAMPBELL v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 10/19/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
No. 16-cv-08072 (JBS-AMD)
Allegra Campbell, Plaintiff Pro Se
7936 Montgomery Ave.
Elkins, Park PA 19027
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Allegra Campbell seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review
complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts 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.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
CCJ; and (2) dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure
to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Claims Against CCJ: Dismissed With Prejudice
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 19831 for alleged violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional
rights. In order to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983, a
plaintiff must show: “(1) a person deprived him of a federal
right; and (2) the person who deprived him of that right acted
under color of state or territorial law.” Groman v. Twp. of
Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)).
Generally, for purposes of actions under § 1983,
“[t]he term ‘persons’ includes local and state officers acting
under color of state law.” Carver v. Foerster, 102 F.3d 96, 99
(3d Cir. 1996) (citing Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991)).2 To
Section 1983 provides: “Every person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State .
. . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to
the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
2 “Person” is not strictly limited to individuals who are state
and local government employees, however. For example,
municipalities and other local government units, such as
counties, also are considered “persons” for purposes of § 1983.
say that a person was “acting under color of state law” means
that the defendant in a § 1983 action “exercised power [that the
defendant] possessed by virtue of state law and made possible
only because the wrongdoer [was] clothed with the authority of
state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988) (citation
omitted). Generally, then, “a public employee acts under color
of state law while acting in his official capacity or while
exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.” Id.
Because the Complaint has not sufficiently alleged
that a “person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right, the
Complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set forth a
prima facie case under § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages from CCJ for allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement. The CCJ, however, is not a “person”
within the meaning of § 1983; therefore, the claims against it
must be dismissed with prejudice. 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). Given
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
that the claims against the CCJ must be dismissed with
prejudice, the claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not name
the CCJ as a defendant.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to name a
person or persons who were personally involved in the alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 60 days of the date of this order.
Conditions Of Confinement Claims:
Dismissed Without Prejudice
Second, 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).
As to the conditions of confinement claims, the
present Complaint states: “I was brought to jail on a Friday
night with a broken wrist, thumb, and hand and was told by the
doctor at the hospital that I was to keep the sling on in order
for mu injury to heal properly. I was also suffering a
concussion. I was extremely light sensitive. I demanded medical
attention and water. They wouldn’t give me neither until after I
was processed on Saturday. They made me take my sling off once I
was brought to jail. They saw I had a cast on yet still put me
in general populations “7 day.” I was under the lights which
caused me extreme pain and discomfort on top of not being able
to get to my prescribed medicine to alleviate the pain from the
trauma. My first night I slept on the floor. They did not give
me any medical attention when I would ask. On night finally a
guard said “you shouldn’t be in here (7th day general population”
you visibly are injured) and she transferred me to the medical
unit. I was deprived of my rights. 8th amendment. They also had
black mold along windows wall and showers (major health
hazard).” Complaint § III(C).
Plaintiff states this occurred between February 22,
2015 and March 2, 2015. Id. § III(B)
Plaintiff states, “My hand/ wrist/ thumb (left
dominant) had not healed properly. It gets weak and sometimes
gives out on me. I went to therapy, after my release (once I got
my 2nd cast set off) I had to get a new cast on because the
injury was not going to be healed without proper setting. My
therapist treated me for some months but we decided to part ways
when I realized the strength and stiffness in my was not getting
better. I still cannot move my thumb across my palm without my
fingers bunching up. I can feel my nerve damage. I still cannot
open a canned jar.” Id. § IV.
With respect to requested relief, Plaintiff states she
“would like to receive my wholeness. I have been damaged. I’m
seeking $25,000 to compensate as a partial relief. I am
wounded.” Id. § V.
Even construing the Complaint as seeking to bring a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged
prison overcrowding which did not allow for Plaintiff to be seen
by medical, any such purported claims must be dismissed because
the Complaint does not name specific individuals who are
responsible for these conditions. As discussed above, the CCCF
is a not a “person” who can be held responsible for these
claims. Plaintiff has to name individuals or the positions held
by individuals who are responsible for these claims. Plaintiff
may amend her complaint to name any specific individuals who
were involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of
confinement and any other relevant facts regarding the
conditions of confinement, etc. It is not enough to list “CCCF”
as the defendant.
Conditions Of Confinement Claim - Allegations Of Inadequate
Medical Care: Dismissed Without Prejudice
Further, Plaintiff alleges a denial of adequate
medical care. However, Plaintiff does not allege sufficient
facts to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional
violation has occurred in order to survive this Court’s review
under § 1915.
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Fed.
R. Civ. P.”) requires pleadings to contain “a short and plain
statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . .
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). While 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)), pro se litigants nevertheless must still allege facts,
taken as true, to suggest the required elements of the claims
asserted. Phillips v. Cnty. 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 without counsel”).
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
applies to pretrial detainees’ claims of inadequate medical
care. Bocchino v. City of Atlantic City, 179 F. Supp.3d 387, 403
(D.N.J. 2016). “[T]he Fourteenth Amendment in this context
incorporates the protections of the Eighth Amendment” (Holder v.
Merline, No. 05-1024, 2005 WL 1522130, at *3 (D.N.J. June 27,
2005) (citing Simmons v. City of Philadelphia, 947 F.2d 1042,
1067 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 985 (1992)), and
most cases have stated that, at a minimum, the Eighth
Amendment’s “deliberate indifference” standard will suffice. In
other words, substantive due process rights are violated only
when the behavior of the government official is so egregious and
outrageous that it “shocks the conscience.” A.M. ex rel. J.M.K.
v. Luzerne Cnty. Juvenile Detention Ctr., 372 F.3d 572, 579 (3d
Cir. 2004) (citing County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833,
Applying this principle in the context of a claim for
violation of the right to adequate medical care, a pretrial
detainee must allege the following two elements to set forth a
cognizable cause of action: (1) a serious medical need; and (2)
behavior on the part of prison officials that constitutes
deliberate indifference to that need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318
F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003).
To satisfy the first prong of the Estelle inquiry, an
inmate must demonstrate that his medical needs are serious. The
Third Circuit has defined a serious medical need as: (1) “one
that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment”;
(2) “one that is so obvious that a lay person would recognize
the necessity for a doctor's attention”; or (3) one for which
“the denial of treatment would result in the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain” or “a life-long handicap or permanent
loss.” Atkinson v. Taylor, 316 F.3d 257, 272-73 (3d Cir. 2003)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). When evaluating
this first element under Estelle, courts consider factors such
as “the severity of the medical problems, the potential for harm
if the medical care is denied or delayed and whether any such
harm actually resulted from the lack of medical attention.”
Maldonado v. Terhune, 28 F. Supp.2d 284, 289 (D.N.J. 1998).
The second element of the Estelle test is subjective
and “requires an inmate to show that prison officials acted with
deliberate indifference to his serious medical need.” Holder,
2005 WL 1522130, at *4 (citing Natale, 318 F.3d at 582) (finding
deliberate indifference requires proof that the official knew of
and disregarded an excessive risk to inmate health or safety).
Conduct that constitutes negligence does not rise to the level
of deliberate indifference; rather, deliberate indifference is a
“reckless disregard of a known risk of harm.” Holder, 2005 WL
1522130, at *4 (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836
(1994)). Courts have found deliberate indifference “in
situations where there was ‘objective evidence that [a]
plaintiff had serious need for medical care,’ and prison
officials ignored that evidence[,] Nicini v. Morra, 212 F.3d
798, 815 n. 14 (3d Cir. 2000) [and] in situations where
‘necessary medical treatment is delayed for non-medical
reasons.’ Monmouth Cnty. Corr. Inst. Inmates v. Lanzaro, 834
F.2d 326, 347 (3d Cir. 1987)[,] [cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1006
(1988)].” Natale, 318 F.3d at 582.
While the Court will accept as true for screening
purposes that the injury Plaintiff states she suffered was of a
nature and extent that satisfies the “serious condition” prong
of a Fourteenth Amendment claim (Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
106 (1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575,
582 (3d Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff’s Complaint sets forth
insufficient facts alleging that an individual at CCCF
demonstrated “deliberate indifference” to these injuries during
her incarceration (i.e., the second prong for a Fourteenth
Amendment inadequate medical care claim). Estelle, 429 U.S. at
106. This second Estelle element “requires an inmate to show
that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to his
serious medical need.” Holder, 2005 WL 1522130, at *4 (citing
Natale, 318 F.3d at 582) (finding deliberate indifference
requires proof that the official knew of and disregarded an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety).
Conduct that constitutes negligence does not rise to
the level of deliberate indifference; rather, deliberate
indifference is a “reckless disregard of a known risk of harm.”
Holder, 2005 WL 1522130, at *4 (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 836 (1994)). Courts have found deliberate indifference
“in situations where there was ‘objective evidence that [a]
plaintiff had serious need for medical care,’ and prison
officials ignored that evidence[.] Nicini v. Morra, 212 F.3d
798, 815 n.14 (3d Cir. 2000).” Natale, 318 F.3d at 582.
Therefore, Plaintiff has failed to state a cause of
action under the Fourteenth Amendment for inadequate medical
care of her injury while incarcerated at CCJ. These claims will
be dismissed without prejudice, with leave to amend the
Complaint to meet the pleading deficiencies noted above, if
Plaintiff elects to pursue this claim with respect to deliberate
Plaintiff is informed that should she elect to amend
the Complaint some relevant factors she may consider amending in
her complaint include any specific individuals who were involved
in creating the conditions in which she was confined or any
individuals who exhibited indifference to her medical needs, any
information regarding any results or effects that the lack of
medical attention caused Plaintiff to sustain, what if any
actions were taken by Plaintiff in regards to informing staff as
to her condition, etc.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to
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 60 days of the date of this order.3
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: (a)
dismissed with prejudice as to the CCJ; and (b) dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
October 19, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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