WINSTEAD v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/22/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-08461 (JBS-AMD)
Beaufort Winstead, Plaintiff Pro Se
1643 Woodlyn Ave., Apt C
Woodlynn, NJ 08107
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Beaufort Winstead seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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
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).
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). “[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 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
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.
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
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 Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
person deprived him of a federal right, the complaint does not
“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.
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
meet the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie case
under § 1983.
Plaintiff states he was detained in the CCJ in 2004,
2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Complaint § III(B). In his
complaint Plaintiff states: “I was housed with 3 to 4 people in
my cell. I also caught MRSA symptoms while going in there. Staph
infection.” Complaint § III(C).
Even accepting these statements as true for screening
purposes only, there is not enough factual support for the Court
to infer a constitutional violation has occurred.
Plaintiff’s cursory and conclusory allegations are
insufficient, without more, to state a claim for relief. In
order to make out a plausible claim for relief and survive this
Court’s review under § 1915, Plaintiff must plead something more
than “labels and conclusions” and allege enough facts to support
a reasonable inference that defendants deprived him of a
constitutional right. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. For a pretrial
detainee, this means Plaintiff must plead facts showing that the
conditions he encountered shock the conscience and thus violated
his 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 dates and length of the confinement(s),
whether Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner,
In addition, the CCJ may not be sued under § 1983. The
CCJ 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)). Because 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.
Moreover, to the extent the complaint seeks relief for
conditions Plaintiff encountered during periods of confinement
ending prior to November 14, 2014, those claims are barred by
the statute of limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice,
meaning that Plaintiff cannot recover for those claims because
they have been brought too late.3 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);
Plaintiff filed this complaint on November 14, 2016.
Dique v. N.J. 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).
Plaintiff alleges the events giving rise to his claims
occurred during different incarcerations between the years 2004,
2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Complaint § III. However, all
but one of these incarcerations occurred more than two years
prior to the filing of Plaintiff’s complaint. The allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ, namely the
overcrowding, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff
at the time of his detention; therefore, the statute of
limitations for Plaintiff’s claims arising from his
incarcerations from 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013 expired well
before this complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff therefore
cannot recover for these claims.4
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 his cause of action, there are no
extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing
his claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed his
claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590
F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).
As Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall
grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30 days of
the date of this order. However, in the event Plaintiff does
elect to file an amended complaint, he should focus only on the
facts of his confinement from 2014, if he was released after
November 14, 2014. Because Plaintiff’s earlier claims are barred
by the statute of limitations and must be dismissed with
prejudice, Plaintiff may not assert those claims in an amended
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.5 Id.
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
For the reasons stated above, the claims against the
CCJ are dismissed with prejudice. The claims arising from
Plaintiff’s 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2013 confinements are
barred by the statute of limitations and therefore are also
dismissed with prejudice. The remainder of the complaint is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The
Court will reopen the matter in the event Plaintiff files an
amended complaint within the time allotted by the Court.
An appropriate order follows.
August 22, 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?