CUNNINGHAM v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 9/6/17. (jbk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
David Cunningham, Plaintiff Pro Se
North State Prison
P.O. Box 2300
Newark, NJ 07114
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
David Cunningham seeks to bring a civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). 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 claim 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
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.
Plaintiff alleges that he was detained at the CCCF on
October 15, 2006 and remained in the facility for the following
two years. Complaint § III. He further alleges that during this
time he was “forced to endure deplorable and inhuman living
conditions such as sleeping on the floor by the toilet, being in
a cell with four other inmates, living in a filthy living area
in which exposed me to the flesh eating bacteria known as Mercer
[sic].” Id. Plaintiff requests that the Court to add him as a
class member to the class action suit and to award him $1,250 in
Given Plaintiff’s reference to the “class action lawsuit”
(Complaint § VI), the Court advises Plaintiff that he is one of
thousands of members of a certified class in a case on this
Court's docket captioned Dittimus-Bey, et al. v. Taylor, et al.,
Civil Action No. 1:05-cv-0063-JBS, United States District Court
for the District of New Jersey. The class plaintiffs are all
persons confined at the Camden County Correctional Facility
(“CCCF”), as either pretrial detainees or convicted prisoners,
at any time from January 6, 2005 until the present time. The
Dittimus-Bey class of plaintiffs seeks injunctive and
declaratory relief concerning allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at the CCCF involving overcrowding.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints
prior to service of the summons and complaint 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 pauperis.
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
The Dittimus-Bey class action does not involve money damages for
individuals. Various measures undertaken pursuant to the Courtapproved Second and Third Consent Decrees have reduced the CCCF
jail population to fewer prisoners than the intended design
capacity for the jail, thereby greatly reducing or eliminating
triple and quadruple bunking in two-person cells; these details
are further explained in the Final Consent Decree, which would
continue those requirements under Court supervision for two more
years. This class action did not provide monetary compensation
to the class members. The settlement did not bar any individual
class member from seeking money damages in an individual case.
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)).
Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that he experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement while he was detained
in the CCCF between October 2006 and 2008. 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 at
CCCF would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the
time of his detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for
Plaintiff’s claims expired in 2010 at the latest, well before
this complaint was filed in 2017. Plaintiff has filed his
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 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.
As it is clear from the face of the complaint that more
than two years have passed since Plaintiff’s claims accrued, the
complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning he may not file
an amended complaint concerning his detention at CCCF which
commenced on October 15, 2006. 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).
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed with
prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order
September 6, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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