LAWSON v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al
OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 6/29/17. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
PAUL LAWSON, JR.,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
FACILITY; FORMER WARDEN ERIC
TAYLOR; FORMER DEPUTY WARDEN
FRANK LOBERTO; JOSEPH RIPA;
CAMDEN COUNTY FREEHOLDERS;
WARDEN KATE TAYLOR,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 17-cv-03105 (JBS-AMD)
Paul Lawson, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se
49 Primrose Drive
Sicklerville, NJ 08081
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Paul Lawson, Jr. seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Former Warden Eric Taylor
(“Former Warden”), Former Deputy Warden Frank Loberto (“Former
Deputy Warden”), Joseph Ripa, Camden County Freeholders
(“Freeholders”), and Warden Kate Taylor (“Warden”). 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 alleges he experienced unconstitutional
conditions of confinement while detained at the CCCF from July
to November 2015 as well as from March 3, 2017 to the present.
Complaint § III(B). The fact section of the complaint states: “I
was forced to sleep on a cold dirty floor with a thin mattress
for comfort, approximately 2 ft from the toilet. From this
inhumane event my back has constantly troubled me, not to
mention I have some type of skin infection from sleeping in
filth.” Plaintiff further alleges that, “The Officers of the
institution did their job and placed me in these living
arrangements authorized by former warden Eric Taylor, Former
Deputy Warden Frank Loberto.”Id.
Even construing the Complaint 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
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 dates and length of
the confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, etc.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts
to support an inference that the named Defendants are personally
liable for the alleged constitutional violations.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCCF for the
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of his confinement. As the
CCCF is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983, 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.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts
regarding the personal liability of the Freeholders. As the
governing body of Camden County, the Freeholders cannot be held
liable under § 1983 solely on a theory of respondeat superior.
Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690–91
(1978). Plaintiff must instead plead facts showing that the
Freeholders are “responsible for either the affirmative
proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a well-settled
custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990).1
In other words, Plaintiff must set forth facts supporting an
inference that the Freeholders were the “moving force” behind
the alleged constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Similarly, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to
support an inference that the Former Warden, Former Deputy
Warden, Joseph Ripa, or the Warden were personally involved in
either the creation of, or failure to address, the conditions of
his confinement. State actors are liable only for their own
unconstitutional conduct and may not be held liable for the
“Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final
authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the
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).
unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of
respondeat superior. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676
(2009); Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 366 (3d Cir. 2012).
Plaintiff has made no allegations regarding the conduct or
actions of either the Former Warden, Former Deputy Warden,
Joseph Ripa or the Warden.
As Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court,2 the Court shall
grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30 days of
the date of this order.
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,
To the extent the Complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered prior to May 4, 2015, those claims are
barred by the statute of limitations. Claims brought under §
1983 are governed by New Jersey's two-year limitations period
for personal injury. 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). The allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement would have been immediately apparent
to Plaintiff; therefore, the statute of limitations on some of
Plaintiff’s claims expired two years after release from
incarceration. In the event Plaintiff elects to file an amended
complaint, it should be limited to confinements in which
Plaintiff was released after May 4, 2015.
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.3 Id.
For the reasons stated above, 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.
June 29, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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