HIGGINS v. NO DEFENDANT LISTED, No. 1:2016cv08315 - Document 3 (D.N.J. 2017)

Court Description: OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/24/17. (jbk, )
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HIGGINS v. NO DEFENDANT LISTED Doc. 3 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY KELLY A. HIGGINS, HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE Plaintiff, v. Civil Action No. 16-8315(JBS-AMD) (NO DEFENDANT NAMED). OPINION APPEARANCES: Kelly A. Higgins, Plaintiff Pro Se 202 Williams Avenue Deptford, NJ 08096 SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge: INTRODUCTION Plaintiff Kelly A. Higgins seeks to bring a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Although Plaintiff does not name a defendant in the caption or in § I(B) of her Complaint, this Court will construe Plaintiff’s Complaint as asserting claims against Camden County Jail (“CCJ”), based on Plaintiff’s allegations against “Camden County Jail” in § III(A) of her Complaint. 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 Dockets.Justia.com claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 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 In the Complaint, Plaintiff states: “I was in a cell with four girls including me (6 years ago) several times.” Complaint § II(B); § III(B) (“Six years ago several times. 4 girls to a cell”). Plaintiff does not specify injuries allegedly sustained in connection with these events. Id. § IV (“not good”). Plaintiff seeks $2,000 in relief. Id. § V. III. STANDARD OF REVIEW Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints prior to service of the summons and complaint 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 2 under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. 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)). IV. DISCUSSION The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while incarcerated “several times six years ago.” Complaint §§ II(B), III(B). Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this case on November 7, 2016. Docket Entry 1. Therefore, the Court construes Plaintiff’s Complaint to contend that the allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement occurred at various times in 2000. 3 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)). 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 2002 at the latest, well before this Complaint was filed on November 7, 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 4 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 2000. 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. April 24, 2017 Date s/ Jerome B. Simandle JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge 5