REVELL v. CAMDEN COUNTY, No. 1:2016cv06938 - Document 3 (D.N.J. 2017)

Court Description: OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/8/2017. (dmr)
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REVELL v. CAMDEN COUNTY Doc. 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE RHONDA REVELL, Plaintiff, Civil Action No. 16-cv-06938 (JBS-AMD) v. CAMDEN COUNTY, OPINION Defendant. APPEARANCES: Rhonda Revell, Plaintiff Pro Se 600B South 4th Street Camden, NJ 08103 SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge: I. INTRODUCTION Plaintiff Rhonda Revell seeks to bring a civil rights complaint against Camden County (“County”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. 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 pauperis. 1 Dockets.Justia.com For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). II. BACKGROUND Plaintiff’s Complaint states: “I was put in a room with 4 other females. When I got into the cell the only place for my mat was directly by the toilet and the door. I was the last person to fit in the cell . . . It was too many females in my cell. ” Complaint § III(C). With respect to purported injuries in connection with these alleged events, Plaintiff alleges “constant back problems” and “unable to sit for long periods of time.” Id. § IV. Plaintiff states that the alleged events giving rise to these claims occurred: “Early or mid 2000’s during the summertime.” Id. § III(B). Plaintiff seeks “any moneys [sic] approved in this matter.” Id. § V. III. STANDARD OF REVIEW To survive sua sponte screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) for failure to state a claim, a 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 2 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)). IV. DISCUSSION Plaintiff asserts claims against the County for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Primarily, the Complaint must be dismissed because “[t]here is no respondeat superior theory of municipal liability, so a city may not be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for the actions of its agents. Rather, a municipality may be held liable only if its policy or custom is the ‘moving force’ behind a constitutional violation.” Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298, 314 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 122 (1992) (“The city is not vicariously liable under § 1983 for the constitutional torts of its agents: It is only liable when it can be fairly said that the city itself is the wrongdoer.”). Plaintiff must plead facts showing that the relevant County policy-makers are “responsible for either the affirmative proclamation of a policy or 3 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 County itself was the “moving force” behind an alleged constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689. Plaintiff has asserted no such facts in the Complaint. Accordingly, the claims against the County must be dismissed with prejudice. Furthermore, the statute of limitations requires that the Complaint be dismissed with prejudice. “[P]laintiffs who file complaints subject to dismissal should receive leave to amend unless amendment would be inequitable under [§ 1915] or futile.” Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002). This Court denies leave to amend at this time as Plaintiff’s Complaint is barred by the statute of limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's two-year limitations period for personal injury.2 See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 1 “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). 2 “Although the running of the statute of limitations is ordinarily an affirmative defense, where that defense is obvious from the face of the complaint and no development of the record is necessary, a court may dismiss a time-barred complaint sua sponte under § 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to 4 (1985); Dique v. N.J. State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The accrual date of a § 1983 action is determined by federal law, however. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014). “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, 773 F.3d at 480 (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff states that the alleged events giving rise to the claims in the Complaint occurred: “Early or mid 2000’s during the summertime.” Complaint § III(B). Construing these allegations to refer to the period between 2000 and 2005, and recognizing that the allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of detention, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff’s claims therefore expired, at the latest, in 2007. As there are no grounds for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations,3 the Complaint will be dismissed with prejudice. state a claim.” Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 111–12 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam). 3 Equitable tolling “is only appropriate ‘(1) where the defendant has actively misled the plaintiff respecting the plaintiff's cause of action; (2) where the plaintiff in some extraordinary way has been prevented from asserting his or her rights; or (3) where the plaintiff has timely asserted his or her rights mistakenly in the wrong forum.’” Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Santos ex rel. Beato v. United States, 559 F.3d 189, 197 (3d Cir. 2009)). 5 Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 112 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal with prejudice due to expiration of statute of limitations). V. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order follows. February 8, 2017 Date s/ Jerome B. Simandle JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge 6