MUNIER v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, No. 1:2016cv08301 - Document 3 (D.N.J. 2017)

Court Description: OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/24/2017. (tf, n.m.)
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MUNIER v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY Doc. 3 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY HUNLEY D. MUNIER, HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE Plaintiff, Civil Action No. 16-8301(JBS-AMD) v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, OPINION Defendant. APPEARANCES: Hunley D. Munier, Plaintiff Pro Se 520245E South Woods State Prison 215 South Burlington Road Bridgeton, NJ 08302 SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge: INTRODUCTION Plaintiff Hunley D. Munier seeks to bring a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Dockets.Justia.com For the reasons set forth below, it is clear from the Complaint that the claim arose more than two years before the Complaint was filed. It is therefore barred by the two-year statute of limitations that governs claims of unconstitutional conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court will therefore dismiss the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). II. BACKGROUND The Complaint alleges that during the period “Jan. 2010 – Dec. 2012,” Plaintiff was “forced to live with four other men in a cell designed for two inmates.” Complaint §§ III(B)-(C). As a result of these alleged events, Plaintiff claims to have been “mentally and emotionally traumatized for a substantial period of months.” Id. § IV. Plaintiff seeks “compensation comparable to the original plaintiffs who w[ere] a part of the class action suit against Camden County Correctional Facility.”1 Id. § V. 1 Given that Plaintiff references “compensation comparable to the original plaintiffs who w[ere] a part of the class action suit against [CCCF]” (Complaint § V), the Court advises Plaintiff that he is one of thousands of members of a certified class in the case on this Court's docket entitled, Dittimus-Bey v. Camden County Correctional Facility, Civil No. 05-cv-0063 (JBS), which is a class action case. The class plaintiffs are all persons confined at the CCCF, as either pretrial detainees or convicted prisoners, at any time from January 6, 2005, until the present time. The class of plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief about unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the CCCF involving overcrowding. That class action does not involve money damages for individuals. A proposed final settlement of that case, which describes the settlement in detail, was 2 III. STANDARD OF REVIEW 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) and 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and is filing a claim about the conditions of his confinement. To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim, the complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to preliminarily approved on February 22, 2017. At present, various measures already undertaken in the Second and Third Consent Decrees under Court approval have reduced the jail population to fewer prisoners than the intended design capacity for the jail. This has greatly reduced or eliminated triple and quadruple bunking in two-person cells, as explained in the proposed Sixth and Final Consent Decree, which would continue those requirements under Court supervision for two more years. According to the Notice to all class members that was approved in the Dittimus-Bey case on February 22, 2017, any class member can object to the proposed settlement by filing an objection in the Dittimus-Bey case before April 24, 2017. A final Court hearing is set for May 23, 2017, at which any objections will be considered. If the Dittimus-Bey settlement is finally approved after the May 23rd hearing, Plaintiff and other class members will be barred from seeking injunctive or declaratory relief for the period of time from January 6, 2005, until the date of final approval, but the settlement does not bar any individual class member from seeking money damages in an individual case. 3 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)). IV. DISCUSSION The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while incarcerated from “Jan. 2010 – Dec. 2012.” Complaint § III(B). Civil rights claims under § 1983 are governed by New Jersey's limitations period for personal injury and must be brought within two years of the claim’s accrual. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. New Jersey 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) (quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)). 4 The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement, namely the purported overcrowding and sleeping conditions in cells, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff’s claims expired in December 2014 at the latest, well before this Complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit too late. Although the Court may toll, or extend, the statute of limitations in the interests of justice, certain circumstances must be present before it can do so. Tolling is not warranted in this case because the state has not “actively misled” Plaintiff as to the existence of Plaintiff’s cause of action, there are no extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing the claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed the claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014). As it is clear from the face of the Complaint that more than two years have passed since Plaintiff’s claims accrued, the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning Plaintiff may not file an amended complaint concerning the events of “Jan. 2010 – Dec. 2012.” Complaint § III(B). 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). 5 V. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order follows. April 24, 2017 Date s/ Jerome B. Simandle JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge 6