BOTTIE v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 5/31/2017. (rtm, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-08594 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Derrick Battie, Plaintiff Pro Se
1070 Morton Street
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Derrick Battie seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Seven days prior to
filing the present action, Plaintiff filed an identical
complaint against Camden County. Battie v. The County, Civ. No.
16-cv-8409 (D.N.J.) (the “8409 action”).
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 discussed below, and because the
complaint is duplicative of the complaint Plaintiff filed in the
8409 action, the Court will (1) dismiss the claims against the
CCJ with prejudice and (2) dismiss the remainder of the
complaint without prejudice to Plaintiff’s ability to maintain
the 8409 action.1
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,
In an opinion and order entered concurrently with the opinion
and order entered in this action, the Court will dismiss the
8409 action without prejudice for failure to state a claim
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii) and grant Plaintiff
leave to amend the 8409 complaint.
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)).
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 19832 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)).3 To
say that a person was “acting under color of state law” means
that the defendant in a § 1983 action “exercised power [that the
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.
3 “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,
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.
As an initial matter, because Plaintiff has not
sufficiently alleged that a “person” deprived him of a federal
right, the complaint does not meet the standards necessary to
set forth a prima facie case under § 1983. 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)). 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.
Ordinarily, Plaintiff would be granted leave to amend
the complaint to name a person who was allegedly involved in the
alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement. However,
Plaintiff’s complaint is identical to (and in fact appears to be
a photocopy of) the complaint filed in the 8409 action.4 “As part
of its general power to administer its docket, a district court
may dismiss a duplicative complaint.” Fabics v. City of New
Brunswick, 629 F. App'x 196, 198 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Colorado
River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800,
817 (1976)) (internal quotations omitted); Gause v. Court of
Common Pleas, 571 F. App'x 144, 145 (3d Cir. 2014) (a district
court may properly dismiss duplicative complaints under
§ 1915(e)) (citing Pittman v. Moore, 980 F.2d 994, 994–95 (5th
Cir. 1993)); Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3d Cir.
1977) (en banc) (when faced with duplicative complaints, a court
may dismiss the second action without prejudice, stay the second
action, or consolidate it with the first action).
Plaintiff filed the 8409 action on November 10, 2016,
and the present case on November 17, 2016. In accordance with
this Court’s concurrent order in the 8409 action, Plaintiff has
been granted leave to amend the complaint in that case. The
factual allegations in both cases are identical and the only
The fact section of each complaint states: “Sleeping on floor
Unsanitary conditions 4 to a cell people ur[i]nating on floor
all around me [and] other – people detoxing through up and
people are clean and subject to there [sic] addiction. Warden
[and] other officers knowing and knot caring about other inmates
and theirselves being affected by others. Nurses not giving
medications when suppose to talking about they don’t get high
just being disrespectful and none caring.” Complaint § III; 8409
Complaint § III.
distinction between these two actions is that in this case,
Plaintiff has elected to sue a defendant not subject to suit.
The present action will therefore be dismissed as duplicative
and Plaintiff will not be granted leave to amend. Should
Plaintiff wish to name additional or different defendants, he
may do so when and if he chooses to amend the 8409 complaint.
For the reasons stated above, the claims against the
CCJ are dismissed with prejudice. The remainder of the complaint
is dismissed without prejudice as duplicative of Plaintiff’s
An appropriate order follows.
May 31, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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