BROWN v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/24/2017. (dmr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
WARDEN DAVID OWENS, and BOARD
Ulysses Brown, Plaintiff Pro Se
3 West Industrial Boulevard
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Ulysses Brown seeks to bring a civil rights
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Warden David Owens (“Owens”),
and Board of Freeholders (“BOF”) for allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement and false imprisonment. Complaint,
Docket Entry 1.
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, it is clear from the Complaint
that the claims therein arose more than two years before the
Complaint was filed. It is therefore barred by the two-year
statute of limitations that governs claims of unconstitutional
conduct and false imprisonment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court
will therefore dismiss the Complaint with prejudice for failure
to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Plaintiff alleges that he was “sleeping on the floor [with]
4 people to a two man cell [and] unsanitary living conditions”
during the periods “9/06/06 – 12/03/07, 3/19/08 – 8/29/08 [and]
4/24/10 – 8/04/10.” Complaint § III(B)-(C). In addition to
alleged overcrowding, Plaintiff’s Complaint adds: “[P]lus false
imprisonment from 9/06/06 – 12/03/07.” Id. § III(C). As a result
of these alleged events, Plaintiff claims to have sustained
“mental anguish” and a “boil on left arm.” Id. § III(C).
Plaintiff does not identify or describe the relief he seeks. § V
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)
and 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e because Plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis and is a prisoner who has filed the present
Complaint about the conditions of his confinement.
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)).
The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement while incarcerated
during “9/06/06 – 12/03/07, 3/19/08 – 8/29/08 [and] 4/24/10 –
8/04/10.” Complaint § III(B). Civil rights claims under § 1983
are governed by New Jersey's limitations period for personal
injury and must be brought within two years of the claim’s
accrual. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique
v. New Jersey State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010).
“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 v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr., 773
F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d
626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)).
The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement,
namely the purported overcrowding and sleeping conditions in
cells, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the
time of detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for
Plaintiff’s claims expired on August 4, 2012 at the latest, well
before this Complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed
this lawsuit too late. Although the Court may toll, or extend,
the statute of limitations in the interests of justice, certain
circumstances must be present before it can do so. Tolling is
not warranted in this case because the state has not “actively
misled” Plaintiff as to the existence of Plaintiff’s cause of
action for unconstitutional conditions of confinement, there are
no extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from
filing the claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff
filed the claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v.
Blackman, 590 F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).
As it is clear from the face of the Complaint that more
than two years have passed since Plaintiff’s claims accrued for
alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the
Complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning Plaintiff may not
file an amended complaint concerning the events of “9/06/06 –
12/03/07, 3/19/08 – 8/29/08 [and] 4/24/10 – 8/04/10.” Complaint
§ III(B). 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 of limitations).
The statute of limitations has also expired on Plaintiff’s
claim of “false imprisonment from 9/06/06 – 12/03/07.” Complaint
§ III(C). “[A] claim of false arrest, and the accompanying claim
for false imprisonment, begins to accrue immediately upon the
arrest at issue[;] [however,] the statute of limitations does
not begin to run at the same time. Instead, the statute of
limitations for a false arrest / imprisonment claim begins to
run ‘when the individual is released, or becomes held pursuant
to legal process,’ i.e., is arraigned.” Clark v. Warren County
Prison, No. 15-6174, 2016 WL 5858985, at *3 (D.N.J. Oct. 6,
2016) (internal citations omitted).
Here, Plaintiff's § 1983 claims arising from alleged false
imprisonment would be time barred if he was released as to the
relevant charges more than two years before he brought the
instant Complaint, which this Court received from Plaintiff on
November 9, 2016.
Construing Plaintiff’s Complaint to allege that he was
released on December 3, 2007, Plaintiff’s false imprisonment
claim in his November 9, 2016 Complaint is time-barred.
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is dismissed with
prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order
April 24, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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