ECHEVARRIA v. STRAUSS et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Susan D. Wigenton on 5/22/2023. (mxw)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil No. 22-5946 (SDW-ESK)
SGT. STRAUSS, et al,
IT APPEARING THAT:
1. On or about October 7, 2022, Plaintiff Moises Echevarria, a pretrial detainee confined in
Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, New Jersey, filed a pro se prisoner civil rights complaint (ECF
No. 1) without paying the $402 filing and administrative fees or alternatively filing an application
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (“in forma pauperis” or
“IFP”). This Court administratively terminated this matter, subject to reopening. (ECF No. 2, 4).
2. Upon Plaintiff’s submission of a properly completed IFP application, which established
his financial eligibility to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, this Court reopened this
matter, granted Plaintiff’s IFP application, and sua sponte dismissed the complaint without
prejudice for failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). (ECF Nos. 6, 7.)
Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint.
3. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on or about March 16, 2023. (ECF No. 8). The
amended complaint brings claims against many additional defendants, primarily identified as
fictitious John and Jane Does. Additionally, the amended complaint states that it incorporates the
statement of claims in the original complaint.
6. Plaintiff has incorporated the allegations in his original complaint by reference in his
amended complaint. Therefore, the Court begins with the original complaint. Plaintiff asserts
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jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants named in the original complaint are Sgt. Strauss,
First and Second Shift Officers (John Does), and Intake Officers 1 and 2 (John Does) at Bergen
County Jail, and the County of Bergen. The new defendants named in the amended complaint are as
Bergen County Department of Correction; Bergen County Adult Correction Center
Director/Warden Russo and Grella; New Jersey Department of Correction; John/Jane Doe Second
Shift Officers; ABC Sheriff’s Officers; DEF County Guards, GHI Public Entities 1-5, JKL Private
Entities 1-5, and John and Jane Does 1-10. (ECF No. 5). In his original complaint, Plaintiff alleges
that upon his arrival as a pretrial detainee at Bergen County Jail on May 26, 2022, he was not provided
with all of the items listed in the inmate manual, including but not limited to shower shoes, socks,
underwear, t-shirts, and cleaning products for the shower. (ECF No. 1). He was provided with two
jumpsuits and county issued shoes. (Id.) He continuously requested the missing items from the
individual defendants but they denied his requests. (Id.) Sergeant Strauss told Plaintiff that Bergen
County Jail was not equipped to handle all the inmates who were transferred from Passaic County
Jail. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges he was treated inhumanely. (Id.) For relief, he seeks damages and
requests that the Court address deficiencies in the inmate grievance procedures. (Id.)
7. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants’ refusal to provide him with proper
clothing and undergarments was punishment because Defendants lied by omission. (ECF No. 5 at
5.) 1 Plaintiff asserts a right to equal distribution of clothing. (Id.) He has observed many inmates
who received clothing items that he was not given. (Id.) Plaintiff incorporates into the amended
Plaintiff appears to have misconstrued the basis for this Court’s dismissal of his original
complaint. In the amended complaint, he states “In response to the failure to state a claim, I have
been directed to provide factual undeniable evidence that the refusal to provide proper clothing and
undergarment was done to punish me as a pretrial detainee.” (ECF No. 8 at 5.) Dismissal of the
original complaint was not based on the necessity to provide undeniable evidence, but rather to
allege sufficient facts for this Court to determine whether Plaintiff had a plausible claim that he was
deprived of the clothing items listed in the inmate handbook for the purpose of punishment, rather
than due to a temporary shortage of such items. (ECF No. 6).
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complaint an affidavit of Anthony Mitchell, Plaintiff’s cellmate at Bergen County Jail. (Id. at 6, 8.)
Mr. Mitchell asserts that when he and Plaintiff arrived at Bergen County Jail, having been transferred
from Passaic County Jail, they were not provided with the clothing items listed in the Inmate
Handbooks for both jails. (Id. at 8.) They were told Bergen County Jail did not have enough clothing
to accommodate all the inmates transferred from Passaic County Jail. (Id.) This was untrue because
many inmates from Bergen County came to their unit with all items of clothing listed in the handbook.
(Id.) This was brought to the attention of the corrections officers and sergeant on duty, who ignored
the complaints. (Id.) Mr. Mitchell and Plaintiff were only provided two jumpsuits and shoes “for an
extended period of time.” (Id. at 9.)
Plaintiff’s claim in the original complaint regarding deficiencies in the jail’s grievance
procedures was dismissed with prejudice. (ECF No. 7).
8. “[W]hen pretrial detainees challenge their conditions of confinement, [courts] must
consider whether there has been a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment.”) Hubbard v. Taylor, 538 F.3d 229, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). “[T]he proper inquiry is
whether those conditions amount to punishment of the detainee.” Id. (quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441
U.S. 520, 535 (1979)). To make this determination, courts must decide whether the conditions
imposed were for the purpose of punishment or whether “the conditions were reasonably related to
the Government's interest in maintaining security and order and operating the institution in a
manageable fashion[.]” Id. at 232 (quoting Bell, 441 U.S. at 540 n. 23 (3d Cir. 2008)).
9. Plaintiff’s amended complaint fails to state a Fourteenth Amendment conditions of
confinement claim. Plaintiff now alleges he was provided with only two jumpsuits and shoes “for
an extended period of time” after his intake at Bergen County Jail. Plaintiff alleges other inmates
who entered his living unit were provided with more clothing than Plaintiff and his cellmate were
given. Therefore, Plaintiff concludes Defendants sought to punish him, and they lied about a shortage
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of clothing. The allegation of that this condition lasted “for an extended period of time” is too vague
for this Court to conclude that Plaintiff’s provision of only two jumpsuits and shoes constitutes
punishment of a pretrial detainee under the Due Process Clause. This Court will dismiss the amended
complaint without prejudice. Plaintiff may file a second amended complaint, if he can allege a more
specific period of time that he was provided only two jumpsuits and shoes; for example, when (how
long after his initial intake) and to whom he requested additional clothing items and was denied, and
the reasons he was given. “In general, an amended pleading supersedes the original pleading and
renders the original pleading a nullity.” Garrett v. Wexford Health, 938 F.3d 69, 82 (3d Cir. 2019).
The second amended complaint shall completely replace the original and amended complaint and,
therefore, must contain all claims against all defendants.
10. In conclusion, this Court will dismiss the amended complaint without prejudice for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff is granted leave to file a second amended
An appropriate order follows.
Hon. Susan D. Wigenton,
United States District Judge
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