BROOKS v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/7/18. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Cathleen Brooks, Plaintiff Pro Se
116 A. White Horse Pike
Oaklyn, NJ 08107
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Cathleen Brooks seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
At this time, the Court must review the Complaint 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,
the Court concludes that the Complaint: (1) will be dismissed
with prejudice as to claims against CCJ; and (2) will be
dismissed without prejudice: (a) as to alleged unconstitutional
conditions of confinement ((i) overcrowded conditions, (ii)
water conditions, and (iii) food conditions), (b) as to alleged
improper strip search, and (c) as to alleged harassment.
The following factual allegations are taken from the
Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this
screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the truth
of Plaintiff’s allegations.
Plaintiff alleges she endured unconstitutional
conditions of confinement in CCJ as she was confined in an
overcrowded, unsanitary facility. Complaint § III. Her complaint
states: “There was no room in holding[.] 7 day lock slept on
floor. Water was cold. Food had hair in it. Was stripped search
for a non-drug offense. Guards yelled at me & cursed at me for
no reason.” Id. § III(C).
Plaintiff alleges that these events occurred in “Feb
2016 – Sept 2016.” Id. § III(B).
Plaintiff does not identify or otherwise describe any
injury sustained in connection with the alleged events. Id. § IV
Plaintiff does not specify or otherwise describe any
requested relief. Id. § V (blank).
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
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 pauperis.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (a)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
CCJ; and (b) dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure
to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Claims Against CCJ: Dismissed With Prejudice
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
plaintiff must show: “(1) a person deprived him of a federal
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.
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 the Complaint has not sufficiently alleged
that a “person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right, the
Complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set forth a
“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.
Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Svcs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1973).
prima facie case under § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff makes
claims against 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)); Grabow v. Southern
State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989)
(correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983). Given
that 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.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to name a
person or persons who were personally involved in the alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 30 days after the date this Opinion and Order
are entered on the docket.
Conditions Of Confinement Claim – Overcrowded
Conditions: Dismissed Without Prejudice
Plaintiff alleges that “there was no room in
holding[.] 7 day lock slept on floor” (hereinafter referred to
as Plaintiff’s “Overcrowding Claim”). Complaint § III(C).
As detailed below, the Court will dismiss the
Overcrowding Claim 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. The Court will accept as true
for screening purposes only the statements in Plaintiff’s
Complaint, but there is not enough factual support for the Court
to infer that an unconstitutional overcrowding violation has
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim3, 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 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)
(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. §
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).
A complaint 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.
However, even construing the Complaint in this case as
seeking to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for alleged prison overcrowding, 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 of overcrowding 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) (“Hubbard II”) (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”) (citing Union Cnty. Jail Inmates v. DiBuono, 713 F.2d
984, 992 (3d Cir. 1983) (quoting Bell, 441 U.S. at 542)). 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 confinement, etc.
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 after the date this Opinion and Order are entered
on the docket.4
Plaintiff is further advised that any amended
complaint must plead specific facts regarding the overcrowded
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 §
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
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
complaint may not adopt or repeat claims that have been
dismissed with prejudice by the Court.
Conditions Of Confinement Claims – Jail Conditions:
Dismissed Without Prejudice
Plaintiff complains of two alleged jail conditions
during her confinement at CCJ: (a) “food had hair in it”; and
(b) “water was cold” (the foregoing two conditions of
confinement are collectively referred to hereinafter as “Jail
Conditions”). Complaint § III(C). For the reasons set forth
below, both Jail Conditions claims shall be dismissed without
prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
A failure of prison officials to provide minimally
civil conditions of confinement to pre-trial detainees violates
their right not to be punished without due process of law.
Reynolds v. Wagner, 128 F.3d 166, 173-74 (3d Cir. 1997);
Monmouth Cnty., 834 F.2d at 345-46, n. 31; Estelle, 429 U.S. at
104; Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835.5 Pursuant to the Fourteenth
Amendment’s Due Process Clause, prison officials must satisfy
“basic human needs -- e.g., food, clothing, shelter, medical
care, and reasonable safety.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25,
“[T]he Due Process rights of a pre-trial detainee are at least
as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to a
convicted prisoner,” Reynolds, 128 F.3d at 173, and so the
Eighth Amendment sets the floor for the standard applicable to
pre-trial detainees’ claims. Bell, 441 U.S. at 544.
32 (1993). See also Mora v. Camden Cnty., No. 09-4183, 2010 WL
2560680, at *8 (D.N.J. June 21, 2010) (applying Helling to
pretrial detainee). However, “a detainee seeking to show
unconstitutional conditions of confinement must clear a ‘high
bar’ by demonstrating ‘extreme deprivations.’” Cartegena v.
Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, No. 12-4409, 2012 WL 5199217, at *3
(D.N.J. Oct. 19, 2012) (citing Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d
1278, 1298 (11th Cir. 2004)).
When a pretrial detainee complains about the
conditions of her confinement, courts are to consider, in
accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment, whether the conditions
“amount to punishment prior to an adjudication of guilt in
accordance with law.” Hubbard v. Taylor, 399 F.3d 150, 158 (3d
Cir. 2005) (“Hubbard I”). In making such a determination, courts
consider: (a) whether any legitimate purposes are served by the
conditions at issue, and (b) whether those conditions are
rationally related to those purposes. Hubbard II, 538 F.3d at
232 (quoting DiBuono, 713 F.2d at 992). Courts must inquire as
to whether the conditions “‘cause [detainees] 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.’” Hubbard I, 399 F.3d at 159-60
The objective component of unconstitutional punishment
analysis examines whether “the deprivation [was] sufficiently
serious” and the subjective component asks whether “the
officials act[ed] with a sufficiently culpable state of mind[.]”
Stevenson v. Carroll, 495 F.3d 62, 68 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing
Bell, 441 U.S. at 538-39, n.20), cert. denied, Phelps v.
Stevenson, 552 U.S. 1180 (2008).
Here, Plaintiff’s allegations about the Jail
Conditions do not surmount these constitutional requisites.
Food Claim: Dismissed Without Prejudice
Plaintiff alleges that food served during her
confinement at CCJ “had hair in it” (this allegation is referred
to hereinafter as “Food Claim”). Complaint § III(C).
The general allegation of Plaintiff’s Food Claim is
insufficient to satisfy either the objective or subjective
components to a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process cause of
The constitutionally adequate diet “must provide
adequate nutrition, but corrections officials may not be held
liable [as to claims of inadequate food] unless the inmate shows
both an objective component (that the deprivation was
sufficiently serious) and a subjective component (that the
officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind).”
Duran v. Merline, 923 F. Supp.2d 702, 719-20 (D.N.J. 2013)
(citing Stevenson, 495 F.3d at 68 (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501
U.S. 294, 298 (1991) (“Unconstitutional punishment typically
includes both objective and subjective components”)).
Objectively, “[w]hether the deprivation of food falls
below this [constitutional] threshold depends on the amount and
duration of the deprivation.” Duran, 923 F. Supp.2d at 720
(citing Berry v. Brady, 192 F.3d 504, 507 (5th Cir. 1999)).
“Under the Eighth Amendment, which provides a floor for the
rights of pretrial detainees, see Natale, 318 F.3d at 581,
inmates must be served ‘nutritionally adequate food that is
prepared and served under conditions which do not present an
immediate danger’ to their health and well-being.” Duran, 923 F.
Supp.2d at 720 (citing Robles v. Coughlin, 725 F.2d 12, 15 (2d
Cir. 1983) (quoting Ramons v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 571 (10th Cir.
1980)); Mora, 2010 WL 2560680, at *8).
Plaintiff has not satisfied this objective
requirement. “[I]solated instances of contaminated or spoiled
food, while certainly unpleasant, are not unconstitutional.”
Duran, 923 F. Supp.2d at 720 (“Being served cold meals . . . is
not ‘punishment’ under Bell. So long as the food is
nutritionally adequate, the mere fact that it is unvaried or
cold does not give rise to a constitutional violation . . .”)
(citing Nickles v. Taylor, Nos. 09-313, 09-557, 09-952, 2010 WL
1949447, at *5 (D.N.J. May 14, 2010) (“A single or occasional
incident involving spoiled food is insufficient to show that
Plaintiff has been denied life's necessities”).
Here, Plaintiff’s allegation that “food [at CCJ] had
hair in it” (Complaint § III(C)) does not rise to the threshold
of the objective component of the standard announced in
Stevenson. Plaintiff does not allege that she or any other
inmate became ill, malnourished, or otherwise suffered any
injury from the purportedly tainted food or that a significant
portion of Plaintiff’s diet consisted of such food. Indeed,
Plaintiff does not allege facts sufficient to plausibly show
whether the challenged food condition occurred in all CCJ menu
items or that such condition occurred frequently during the time
of her confinement at CCJ. Complaint § III(C). Without any facts
that are necessary to demonstrate substantial nutritional
deprivation on a recurring basis, Plaintiff has not satisfied
the objective prong of the constitutional analysis and so this
Court cannot find that Plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim.
Occasional incidents during incarceration involving substandard
food are insufficient to show that Plaintiff has been denied
life's necessities. Without facts such as the degree of
continuity of the contested food occurrences, the particular
physical injuries (if any) that the contested food posed to
inmate health and well-being, or the injury (if any) Plaintiff
actually sustained from such food (beyond more than temporary
discomfort or dislike), the Food Claim constitutionally falls
Additionally, Plaintiff’s Complaint does not satisfy
the subjective component of the Fourteenth Amendment culpability
standard announced in Stevenson. As noted above, Plaintiff must
establish that CCJ officials acted with “deliberate
indifference” to her needs, meaning that they were subjectively
aware of the alleged conditions and failed to reasonably respond
to them. Duran, 923 F. Supp.2d at 721 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 829 and Mora, 2010 WL 2560680, at *9). The test for
deliberate indifference is “subjective recklessness” as that
concept is understood in criminal law. Duran, 923 F. Supp.2d at
721 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839-40). Plaintiff has not
offered any facts from which this Court can reasonably infer
deliberate indifference by anyone at CCJ with respect to food
quality or to the minimum requirements of providing a nonharmful diet.
Given that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate facts
suggesting (a) that the food served to her at CCJ presented an
objectively serious risk of nutritional deficiency or other
physical harm (regardless of Plaintiff’s dislike of the food she
was provided) and (b) that prison officials responsible for such
food knew of that risk and were deliberately indifferent to it,
the Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief may be
granted. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Food Claim shall be dismissed
without prejudice, with leave to file an amended complaint
addressing its deficiencies, within 30 days after the date this
Opinion and Order are entered on the docket, if Plaintiff elects
to pursue this claim of deliberate indifference to a serious
Water Claim: Dismissed Without Prejudice
As to her second Jail Conditions Claim, Plaintiff
complains that “water was cold” (such claim is hereinafter
referred to as “Water Claim”). Complaint III(C).
“[T]here is no doubt that potable water constitutes a
basic human need and that water that is suitable for drinking
and bathing be supplied to inmates.” Wolfe v. Christie, No. 102083, 2013 WL 3223625, at *5 (D.N.J. June 25, 2013) (internal
citations omitted). However, as set forth above, Fed. R. Civ. P.
8 requires pleadings to contain, inter alia, “a short and plain
statement of . . . the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1)-(3). Even with pro
se status, litigants must still allege facts, taken as true, to
suggest the required elements of the claims asserted. Erickson,
551 U.S. at 94; Haines, 404 U.S. at 520; McNeil, 508 U.S. at
113; Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234-35.
Here, Plaintiff may have found “cold water” (Complaint
§ III(C)) unsettling, upsetting or uncomfortable, but the Court
cannot discern from Plaintiff’s non-specific contention the type
of allegations Plaintiff intends to pursue against any
particular person as to this condition of confinement. For
example, the Complaint is silent as to: the purpose for which
Plaintiff intended to use the alleged “cold water” (e.g.,
bathing, drinking, body temperature modulating purposes, etc.);
the frequency with which the water temperature condition
occurred during Plaintiff’s confinement; whether Plaintiff
complained of the alleged water condition to jail officials;
whether jail officials rendered hot or warm water unavailable
for punitive purposes; whether alternate sources of hot or warm
water were made available to Plaintiff (e.g., public area
restrooms; sinks for personal hygiene cleansing; etc.) and, if
so, how frequently; whether Plaintiff was provided with fluids,
skin cleansers, or body wipes for hand and face washing before
meals; whether Plaintiff sustained any injury from the water
temperature situation; or whether hot or warm running water was
rendered unavailable by virtue of jail maintenance activities
(see Passmore v. Ianello, 528 F. App’x 144, 149 (3d Cir. 2013)
(“[C]ourts will generally not interfere with prison
administrative matters”); Jones v. N. Carolina Prisoners’ Labor
Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 126 (1977) (referring to “the wideranging deference to be accorded the decisions of prison
Its Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 pleading deficiencies aside, the
“cold water” claim (Complaint § III(C)) does not satisfy either
of the two prongs of a Due Process claim for denial of the
minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, i.e.,: (a) the
“sufficiently serious” objective prong, under which the
conditions cited by a plaintiff must be objectively serious and
must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities when viewed within the context of
contemporary standards of decency (Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832); and
(b) the “sufficiently culpable state of mind” subjective prong,
under which a defendant must have demonstrated a deliberate
indifference to the well-being of a plaintiff. Estelle, 429 U.S.
at 106; Natale v. Camden Cty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582
(3d Cir. 2003); Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; Helling, 509 U.S. at
First, Plaintiff has not provided facts required to
demonstrate that she suffered any objectively verifiable injury
from the “cold water” of which she complains. Even viewing the
Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, within the
context of prison life, she has not established that she was
denied “the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, Plaintiff has failed to satisfy
the objective standard of the Fourteenth Amendment test. For
example, even if proved, the mere fact that the water in a jail
cell was cold on isolated occasions during a discrete period of
time, without more, is not sufficient to rise to the level of a
constitutional violation. See, e.g., Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S.
337, 349 (1981) (the Constitution “does not mandate comfortable
prisons”); Lopez v. Robinson, 914 F.2d 486, 492 (4th Cir. 1990)
(“The plaintiff inmates have not cited a single case discussing
constitutional standards for hot showers. Though it is tempting
to address this claim . . . for alleged inadequacy of hot water
for showers . . . on the merits, it suffices to say that there
is no clearly established, sufficiently contoured, right to hot
showers in prison”); Shrader v. White, 761 F.2d 975, 984 (4th
Cir. 1985) (finding cold water in cells, both alone as well as
in combination with other conditions of confinement, to be
constitutionally insignificant: “Although [plaintiffs] testified
that the hot and cold shower controls frequently do not work
well, neither that condition nor the momentary loss of cold
water in the showers when a toilet is flushed are of
constitutional significance”); Stewart v. Wright, No. 96-1486,
1996 WL 665978, at *1 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 1996) (“[I]t is well
settled that conditions which are temporary and do not result in
physical harm are not [constitutionally] actionable”); Holloway
v. Gunnell, 685 F.2d 150, 156 (5th Cir. 1982) (“[A] sentence in
prison is not a guarantee that one will be safe from life's
Furthermore, Plaintiff has provided no requisite facts
suggesting that any defendants were deliberately indifferent and
motivated by ill will with respect to water temperature. Thus,
Plaintiff also has failed to satisfy the subjective standard of
the Fourteenth Amendment test. Plaintiff's temporary
dissatisfaction cannot provide a basis for a constitutional
claim and, therefore, her disappointment with “cold water”
(Complaint § III(C)) does not suggest a deprivation of
constitutional magnitude. See, e.g., Diaz v. Cumberland Cnty.
Jail, No. 10-3932, 2010 WL 3825704, at *4 (D.N.J. Sept. 23,
2010) (dismissing claims for lack of running water while
incarcerated, and citing Rivera v. Walker, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
88787, at *14 (S.D. Ill. June 9, 2008)).
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Water Claim will be dismissed
without prejudice, with leave to amend the complaint, within 30
days after the date this Opinion and Order are entered on the
docket, to meet its deficiencies as noted herein, if Plaintiff
elects to pursue this claim of deliberate indifference to water
temperature that, under the totality of circumstances, amounted
to a serious deprivation.
In sum, Plaintiff’s Jail Conditions claims will be
dismissed without prejudice, with leave to amend the complaint,
within 30 days after the date this Opinion and Order are entered
on the docket, to meet the claims’ deficiencies as noted herein,
including: (a) sufficient factual detail for the Court to infer
that Plaintiff was subjected to genuine privations and hardships
over an extended period of time, that a particular defendant was
deliberately indifferent to those substantial risks to
Plaintiff’s health and safety, and that such defendant’s
deliberate indifference caused Plaintiff harm; (b) names of the
specific party(ies) whom Plaintiff claims are allegedly liable
under each particular claim; and (c) the date(s) on which the
relevant events occurred. Mala, 704 F.3d at 245; Pliler, 542
U.S. at 231. The amended complaint may not adopt or repeat any
claims that have been dismissed with prejudice by the Court in
this Opinion and its accompanying Order.
D. Improper Strip Search Claim: Dismissed Without Prejudice
Plaintiff complains that “was stripped search [sic]
for a non-drug offense.” Complaint § III(C).
However, Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged a
constitutional violation for an improper strip search. Under the
Fourth Amendment, inmates have a limited right of bodily privacy
“subject to reasonable intrusions necessitated by the prison
setting.” Parkell v. Danberg, 833 F.3d 313, 325 (3d Cir. 2016).
This right is very narrow, however. Id. at 326.
“The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment
. . . requires a balancing of the need for the particular search
against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails.
Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the
manner in which it is conducted, the justification for
initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.” Bell,
441 U.S. at 559. A prisoner search policy is constitutional if
it strikes a reasonable balance between the inmate's privacy and
the needs of the institution. Parkell, 833 F.3d at 326 (citing
Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of Cty. of Burlington, 132
S. Ct. 1510, 1515, 1517 (2012)).
Plaintiff’s cursory allegation that she “was stripped
search [sic] for a non-drug offense” (Complaint § III(C)) is
insufficient to state a claim for relief. In the absence of
further facts regarding the circumstances of the search, the
claim cannot proceed at this time. Plaintiff may amend this
claim in an amended complaint, however. To that end, the Court
shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint within 30
days of the date of this order.
E. Harassment Claim: Dismissed Without Prejudice
Plaintiff alleges that “guards yelled at me &
sometimes cursed at me for no reason.” Complaint § III(C). The
Complaint does not identify the names of the guards, the
particular language of their verbal communications, or the dates
when the supposed events occurred.
Furthermore, allegations of verbal abuse or threats,
unaccompanied by injury or damage, are not cognizable under §
1983, regardless of whether the inmate is a pretrial detainee or
sentenced prisoner. Brown v. Hamilton Twp. Police Dep’t Mercer
County, New Jersey, 547 F. App’x 96, 97-98 (3d Cir. 2013).
Accord Mimms v. U.N.I.C.O.R., 386 F. App’x 32, 35 (3d Cir.
2010); Aleem-X v. Westcott, 347 F. App’x 731, 732 (3d Cir.
2009); Richardson v. Sherrer, 344 F. App’x 755, 757 (3d Cir.
2009); Patterson v. Bradford, No. 10-5043, 2011 WL 1983357, at
*5 (D.N.J. May 20, 2011) (citations omitted).
Here, Plaintiff does not allege an accompanying
violation of injury or damage that might allow the alleged
verbal harassment to state a separate due process claim in
violation of her Fourteenth Amendment rights.
At most, Plaintiff alleges that she was offended by
unnamed CCJ guards’ unspecified remarks, but Plaintiff does not
offer any facts that are necessary for the supposed verbal abuse
to rise to the level of a violation of her Fourteenth Amendment
rights. The allegation of “yell[ing]” in the Complaint is
insufficient to support a claim that “guards” were verbally
harassing Plaintiff as a form of punishment or to deprive
Plaintiff of any of her constitutional rights.
Consequently, because the alleged verbal harassment of
Plaintiff was not accompanied by any injurious actions — or
physical actions of any kind - of CCJ guards, Plaintiff fails to
state a cognizable § 1983 claim for a violation of her
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. This claim will be
dismissed without prejudice accordingly.
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff’s Complaint is: (a)
dismissed with prejudice as to the CCJ; and (b) otherwise
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
February 7, 2018
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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