WOODALL v. COHEN et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Renee Marie Bumb on 4/10/2017. (rtm, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
WARDEN GERALDINE COHEN,
Civ. Action No. 17-1286 (RMB)
BUMB, District Judge:
Plaintiff Dominique Woodall, an inmate confined in Atlantic
County Justice Facility (“ACJF”), in Atlantic City, New Jersey,
filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on February
(Compl., ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff seeks to proceed
without prepayment of fees (“in forma pauperis” or “IFP”) under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
(IFP App., ECF No. 1-2.)
application will be granted.
The Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B); 1915A(b) 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.
I. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.)
contained in a complaint.”
A court need not accept legal
threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, do not
suffice to state a claim.
Thus, “a court considering a
motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings
entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at 679.
conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must
be supported by factual allegations.”
If a complaint can
be remedied by an amendment, a district court may not dismiss
the complaint with prejudice, but must permit the amendment.
Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir.
A court must liberally construe a pro se complaint.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
Plaintiff alleges the following facts in her Complaint. She
has been incarcerated in Atlantic County Justice Facility for
(Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5.)
not furnish cleaning supplies.
The facility does
(Id. at 4.)
cold leftovers most of the time.
The kitchen serves
The portions of food
are not adequate, and objects are found in the food.
Rooms designed for one person are crowded with three or four
people, creating physical hazards such as getting cut on sharp
edges of the beds and bumping heads.
The showers have
black mold and mildew, which is painted over.
charged rent, and medical and dental copays.
Recreation time and visits are denied due to
The canteen engages in price gouging.
lack of manpower.
There is no law library; inmates may
only request legal material.
Section 1983 claims
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
Section 1983 provides in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or
usage, of any State or Territory ...
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.
Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff
must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the
alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting
under color of state law.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250, 1255–56 (3d
1915A, the Court will assume Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee.
“[U]nder the Due Process Clause, [of the Fourteenth Amendment] a
detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt
in accordance with due process of law.”
action is punishment that may not
Bell v. Wolfish, 441
constitutionally be inflicted
upon detainees qua detainees.” Id. at 539.
Furthermore, when a
restriction is excessive in light of a legitimate non-punitive
purpose, it amounts to punishment under the Due Process Clause.
Stevenson v. Carroll, 495 F.3d 63, 68 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting
Rapier v. Harris, 172 F.3d 999, 1005 (7th Cir. 1999)).
unconstitutional punishment, courts must examine the totality of
the circumstances within the institution.
Id. (citing Hubbard
v. Taylor, 399 F.3d 150 (3d Cir. 2005)).
conditions are reasonably related to the
institution in a manageable fashion, courts
considerations are peculiarly within the
corrections officials, and, in the absence
of substantial evidence in the record to
indicate that the officials have exaggerated
their response to these considerations,
courts should ordinarily defer to their
expert judgment in such matters.
Bell, 441 U.S. at 540, n.23 (citations omitted).
question courts must ask is whether any legitimate purposes are
served by the conditions.
Hubbard, 538 F.3d at 232 (citing
Union County Jail Inmates v. DiBuono, 713 F.2d 984, 992 (3d Cir.
Second, courts must ask whether the conditions are
rationally related to legitimate purposes.
Plaintiff has alleged a totality of circumstances within
Access to Courts Claim
Prisoners have a right of access to the Courts under the
First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817,
However, there is no “freestanding right to a law
library or legal assistance.”
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351
acceptable ways to satisfy the right of access to courts.
v. Holder, 532 F. App’x 61, 63 (3d Cir. 2013.)
For example, the
right can be satisfied by appointing an attorney or providing
the assistance of paralegals.
“hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim.”
Thus, there is an actual injury requirement for a right
of access to courts claim.
Casey, 518 U.S.
Examples of actual injuries
include dismissal of a complaint or the inability to bring a
complaint due to inadequacies of the law library.
Where prisoners assert that defendants'
actions have inhibited their opportunity to
present a past legal claim, they must show
(1) that they suffered an ‘actual injury'that they lost a chance to pursue a
claim; and (2) that they have no other
‘remedy’ that may be awarded as recompense'
for the lost claim other than in the present
denial of access suit.
Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 (2002)).
There is not.
Furthermore, Plaintiff has not pled an
injury caused by the inadequacy of legal assistance at ACJF.
This claim will be dismissed without prejudice.
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege the personal involvement of each defendant, sued in his
Geraldine Cohen condones the conditions in the Atlantic County
(Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶3(b).
Allegations of a
supervisor’s knowledge of and acquiescence in a constitutional
Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 353 (3d
against Warden Cohen, in her individual capacity, may proceed.
Plaintiff has not alleged the personal involvement in creating
Defendants Cheryl DeBoise, Dennis Levison, or Frank Formica, in
Defendants Cheryl DeBoise, Dennis Levison and Frank Formica in
their individual capacities are dismissed without prejudice.
Plaintiff has named the “County Freeholders” as a defendant
construes this claim against the Board of Chosen Freeholders of
In § 1983 cases, municipalities may not be
Monell v. Department of Social Servs. Of City of N.Y., 436 U.S.
658, 691-94 (1978) (“a local government may not be sued under §
Municipalities may be liable when they have in place
Id. at 694.
defines “policy” and “custom” as follows:
A policy is made “when a decisionmaker
possess[ing] final authority to establish
municipal policy with respect to the action
issues a final proclamation, policy or
edict.” Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1212
(3d Cir.1996) (quoting Pembaur v. City of
(plurality opinion)). A custom is an act
“that has not been formally approved by an
appropriate decisionmaker,” but that is “so
widespread as to have the force of law.”
[Bd. of County Com’rs of Bryan County, Okl.
v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997)].
Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 584 (3d
Plaintiff has not alleged that any of the conditions in the
ACJF, individually or as a whole, result from a policy or custom
Plaintiff’s IFP application and proceeds Plaintiff’s Fourteenth
Amendment claim against Warden Geraldine Cohen in her individual
capacity, and dismisses the remainder of the complaint without
An appropriate order follows.
s/Renée Marie Bumb
RENÉE MARIE BUMB
United States District Judge
Dated: April 10, 2017
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