VEGA v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY/STATE
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 5/9/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
No. 17-cv-00767 (JBS-AMD)
Ferdinand Vega, Plaintiff Pro Se
122 N. 21st Street
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Ferdinand Vega seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Correctional Facility/ State. 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 alleges that he was confined in the CCCF
on September 30, 2007 as well as in August 2016. Complaint §
III. Plaintiff states he was detained in an overcrowded cell and
forced to sleep on the floor. Id. He further states that he
sustained boils from the “bad mold” in the bathrooms in the
facility. Id. 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 lists alleged injuries and states cursory
and conclusory allegations of “unsanitary conditions” and “bad
mold” that 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, etc.
In addition, though the Warden may be a proper
defendant in a § 1983 action, the CCCF may not be sued under §
1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCCF for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The CCCF, 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 CCCF must be dismissed
with prejudice, the claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not
name the CCCF as a defendant.
Moreover, to the extent the complaint seeks relief for
conditions Plaintiff encountered during periods of confinement
for September 30, 2007, 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. 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. 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 September 30, 2007 and August 2016. Complaint §
III. The 2007 incarceration occurred more than two years prior
to the filing of Plaintiff’s complaint, which plaintiff filed on
February 6, 2017. The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at CCCF, 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 September 2007 incarceration expired well
before this complaint was filed in 2017. Plaintiff therefore
cannot recover for these claims.3
As Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall
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).
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 August 2016. Because Plaintiff’s
earlier claim is barred by the statute of limitations and must
be dismissed with prejudice, Plaintiff may not assert those
claims in an amended complaint.
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.4 Id.
For the reasons stated above, the claims against the
CCCF are dismissed with prejudice. The claims arising from
Plaintiff’s September 2007 confinement is barred by the statute
of limitations and therefore are also dismissed with prejudice.
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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.
May 9, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief 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?