MERCADO v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, No. 1:2016cv06314 - Document 3 (D.N.J. 2016)

Court Description: OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 11/16/16. (js)
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MERCADO v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL Doc. 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY MANUEL MERCADO, Plaintiff, v. HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE Civil Action No. 16-cv-06314 (JBS-AMD) CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, Defendant. OPINION APPEARANCES: Manuel J. Mercado, Plaintiff Pro Se 2926 Line St. Apt B Camden, NJ 08105 SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge: 1. Plaintiff Manuel J. Mercado seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1. 2. 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. Dockets.Justia.com 3. 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). 4. 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) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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)). 5. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCJ for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. As the CCJ is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983, the claims against it must be dismissed with prejudice. See Crawford v. McMillian, No. 16-3412, 2016 WL 6134846 (3d Cir. Oct. 21, 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)). 2 6. Plaintiff may be able to amend the complaint to name state actors 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 of the date of this order.1 7. Plaintiff is advised that the amended 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. The factual portion of the complaint states in its entirety: “I was force on the floor of a two man cell packed in with four other Inmates. I hit my head back and neck on the underside of the table, chair, or toilet. Also an Inmate jumped off the bunk and landed on my back.” Complaint § III. He further alleges “the jail nurses told me that their policy did not allow adequate medical treatment.” Id. § IV. Even accepting the statements as true for screening purposes only, there is not enough factual support for the Court to infer a constitutional violation has occurred. 8. 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 1 The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to service. 3 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 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.”). 9. In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint, he should include specific facts, such as the dates and length of his confinement(s), whether he was a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of confinement, and any other relevant facts regarding the conditions of confinement. 10. There are also not enough facts for the Court to infer Plaintiff was denied adequate medical care. In order to set forth a cognizable claim for a violation of the right to 4 adequate medical care, an inmate must allege: (1) a serious medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to that need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). Beyond vague statements that his head, neck, and back hurt, Plaintiff does not indicate what his serious medical need was and what treatment was allegedly denied. 11. 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 complaint may not adopt or repeat claims that have been dismissed with prejudice by the Court. 12. For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The 5 Court will reopen the matter in the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint within the time allotted by the Court. 13. An appropriate order follows. November 16, 2016 Date s/ Jerome B. Simandle JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge 6