HARRIS v. WARDEN ATLANTIC COUNTY JUSTICE FACILITY
OPINION. Signed by Judge Renee Marie Bumb on 10/23/2017. (tf, n.m.)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
WALI A. HARRIS,
Civ. No. 17-3483 (RMB)
WARDEN, ATLANTIC COUNTY JUSTICE
BUMB, District Judge
Plaintiff Wali A. Harris brings this civil rights complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Geraldine Cohen, alleging
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Atlantic County
(Compl., ECF No. 1.)
prepayment of fees.
Plaintiff has filed an
(IFP App., ECF No. 1-1.)
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b) require courts to
review a prisoner’s complaint in a civil action and sua sponte
dismiss any claims that are (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fail
to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seek
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant
the IFP application and dismiss the complaint without prejudice.
Sua Sponte Dismissal
Courts must liberally construe pleadings that are filed pro
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle
v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Thus, “a pro se complaint,
“Court personnel reviewing
deciphering why the submission was filed, what the litigant is
seeking, and what claims she may be making.”
See Higgs v. Atty.
Gen. of the U.S., 655 F.3d 333, 339-40 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting
Jonathan D. Rosenbloom, Exploring Methods to Improve Management
and Fairness in Pro Se Cases: A Study of the Pro Se Docket in
the Southern District of New York, 30 Fordham Urb. L.J. 305, 308
review complaints filed by persons proceeding in forma pauperis
in civil actions, and dismiss any claim that is frivolous or
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
A pleading must contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
“To survive a motion to
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.’”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.)
contained in a complaint[.]”
Legal conclusions, together
with threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.”
“While legal 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
Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103,
108 (3d Cir. 2002).
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, including black mold
in the showers, poor ventilation system, and food “not worthy of
(Compl., ECF No. 1.)
complaint on May 16, 2017.
Plaintiff was exposed to
conditions of confinement in violation of the Due Process Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
has set forth a two-step test to analyze the claim.
Taylor (“Hubbard I”), 399 F.3d 150, 159-60 (3d Cir. 2005).
[W]e must ask, first, whether any legitimate
purposes are served by these conditions, and
rationally related to these purposes. In
reasonably related to the assigned purposes,
we must further inquire as to whether these
conditions “cause [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.” [Union
County Jail Inmates v. DiBuono,] 713 F.2d
, 992 [3d Cir. 1983] (citing Bell [v.
Wolfish], 441 U.S.  542, 99 S.Ct. 1861
) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Our inquiry into whether given conditions
within an institution. Id. at 996; see also
Jones v. Diamond, 636 F.2d 1364, 1368 (5th
unconstitutional under ... the fourteenth
amendment, we do not assay separately each
of the institutional practices, but look to
the totality of the conditions.”), overruled
in part on other grounds, Int'l Woodworkers
of America, AFL–CIO v. Champion Int'l Corp.,
790 F.2d 1174 (5th Cir.1986) (en banc).
Unconstitutional punishment under the Fourteenth Amendment
has objective and subjective components.
Stevenson v. Carroll,
whether the defendant prison official acted with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind, is met where the condition is arbitrary
or purposeless or the condition is excessive, even if it would
objective component is met where the prison conditions cause
extended period of time.”
Bell, 441 U.S. at 542.
The fact that an individual is temporarily exposed to mold,
consumption,” without further explanation, does not rise to the
period of time.
See Fantone v. Herbik, 528 F. App’x 123, 127
(3d Cir. 2013) (“[o]nly extreme deprivations are sufficient to
present a claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement”)
(citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8-9 (1992)); Khaliq v.
Brown, 2005 WL 2406099, at *10 (D.N.J. Sept. 29, 2005) (“the
fact that food ... sometimes is served cold, while unpleasant,
does not amount to a constitutional deprivation” (quoting Hamm
v. DeKalb County, 774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1985).
To state a constitutional violation, Plaintiff must allege
enough to deprive him of a basic human need.
Wilson v. Seiter,
501 U.S. 294, 305 (1991); See Riley v. DeCarlo, 532 F. App’x 23,
26 (3d Cir. 2013) (ventilation system was not constitutionally
inadequate where record showed officials performed maintenance
of ducts, Plaintiff was treated for allergies and congestion,
but his lungs were clear.)
If Plaintiff can meet this standard
identifying a basic human need he was deprived of, Plaintiff may
file an amended complaint.
Plaintiff should also indicate how
the warden became aware of the conditions and was deliberately
indifferent to the risk to Plaintiff’s health.
complete in itself because it replaces the original complaint.
See 6 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure 1476
(2d ed. 1990).
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The Court will
reopen the matter if Plaintiff files an amended complaint within
the time allotted by the Court.
An appropriate order follows.
October 23, 2017
s/Renée Marie Bumb__________
RENÉE MARIE BUMB
United States District Judge
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