CHACON v. CAMDEN COUNTY
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 10/19/2017. (rtm, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
MIGUEL A. CHACON, JR.,
No. 16-cv-08890 (JBS-AMD)
Miguel A. Chacon, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se
3018 N. Congress Road
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Miguel A. Chacon, Jr. seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County (“County”) 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
dismiss the Complaint with without prejudice for failure to
state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
The complaint must be dismissed without prejudice as
to the claims against the County as the Plaintiff has not pled
sufficient facts to impose liability on this defendant. “There
is no respondeat superior theory of municipal liability, so a
city may not be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for the
actions of its agents. Rather, a municipality may be held liable
only if its policy or custom is the ‘moving force’ behind a
constitutional violation.” Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298, 314
(3d Cir. 2006) (citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also Collins v. City of
Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 122 (1992) (“The city is not
vicariously liable under § 1983 for the constitutional torts of
its agents: It is only liable when it can be fairly said that
the city itself is the wrongdoer.”).
Plaintiff must plead facts showing that the relevant
Camden County policy-makers are “responsible for either the
affirmative proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a wellsettled custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d
Cir. 1990).1 In other words, Plaintiff must set forth facts
“Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final
authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the
supporting an inference that Camden County itself was the
“moving force” behind the alleged constitutional violation.
Monell, 436 U.S. at 689. 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.
As to Plaintiff’s allegations of overcrowding in CCJ,
the Court will dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for
failure to state a claim, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). The
present Complaint 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.
Even accepting the statements in Plaintiff’s Complaint as true
for screening purposes only, there is not enough factual support
for the Court to infer a constitutional violation has occurred.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim2, the Complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to
action issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict.
Government custom can be demonstrated by showing that a given
course of conduct, although not specifically endorsed or
authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as virtually
to constitute law.” Kirkland v. DiLeo, 581 F. App'x 111, 118 (3d
Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)
(alteration in original).
2 “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)
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)). 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).
With respect to the alleged facts giving rise to
Plaintiff’s claims, the Complaint states: “Police forcibly
arrested me in a very bad manner, putting me in a dirty cell to
sleep on the floor.” Complaint § III(C). Plaintiff further
alleges, “I was assaulted.” Id.
(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. §
Plaintiff states that these events occurred in
November 2016. Id. § III(B).
Plaintiff states these events caused his to sleep on
“dirty floor in really tight handcuffs that cause bruises to my
arms or [illegible].” Id. § IV (“n/a”).
Plaintiff does not specify or otherwise describe any
monetary relief sought. 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 in relation to Plaintiff sleeping on the
floor (Complaint § III(C)), any such purported claims must be
dismissed because the Complaint does not set forth sufficient
factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional
violation has occurred.
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 such 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
Plaintiff’s remaining allegation of being “assaulted”
is insufficient to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983.
Plaintiff provided no additional facts or information in regards
to this claim. Some relevant factors may be who was involved,
the circumstances of the assault, and if Plaintiff suffered any
injuries as a result.
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 30 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
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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