C. Continued Segregation at Huntingdon
Plaintiff's final contention is that his continued segregation at Huntingdon from September 19, 1973 to October 5, 1973 without a hearing or sufficient cause, violated his civil rights.
Upon his arrival at Huntingdon on September 19, 1973, plaintiff was placed in segregation. On September 21, 1973 he was interviewed by defendants Dennis Erhard and Major William Johnson. Mr. Erhard was the Deputy Superintendent for Treatment, and Major Johnson was Acting Deputy of Operations. The interview was for the purpose of determining placement of plaintiff within the prison. At that time his records were unavailable, and these defendants had only a note about his misconduct in their file. Plaintiff informed them that he had served his time, but they did not have official verification of that fact, or of the reasons for the punishment. Plaintiff claims that the continued segregation violated his due process rights. Again, we cannot agree.
The normal procedure, which was followed in this case, of placing every new inmate who is transferred from another facility in administrative segregation until such time as an independent evaluation may be made of the appropriate treatment for and placement of the particular individual, is not only satisfactory from a constitutional viewpoint, see Bauer v. Sielaff, 372 F. Supp. 1104, 1111-12 (E.D.Pa. 1974), but also a prudent exercise of judgment in connection with the maintenance of security. No discrimination is involved in such a practice, nor is any alleged in this matter.
Moreover, the delay in receipt of the records cannot itself be elevated to the level of a deprivation of civil rights. Indeed, plaintiff acknowledged in his deposition that he was actually released to the general population on October 5, 1973, even though his records had not yet been received at Huntingdon. Deposition of Isiah Mack, at 46-47. Thus the facts before us are almost identical to the facts alleged in Bauer, supra ; there plaintiff was placed in segregation on his transfer to Graterford on December 1, was not interviewed within the normal two or three day period because his records had not yet arrived, and finally was interviewed and placed in the general population on December 7, although his records had still not arrived.
We therefore conclude that plaintiff's continued segregation at Huntingdon from September 19 to October 5, 1973 did not violate his constitutional rights.
Perhaps the most difficult part of our task in this case is the determination of what monetary award, if any, is appropriate, given the constitutional violations which we have found. We start with the premise that "Courts may award compensatory damages to plaintiffs who are deprived of constitutional rights." Farber v. Rizzo, 363 F. Supp. 386, 398 (E.D.Pa. 1973), and that "[the] value of such rights, while difficult of assessment, must be considered great." Id.
Damages which may be awarded fall into three categories of monetary awards: FIRST, actual damages, including out-of-pocket, or pecuniary losses, as well as compensation for physical and mental suffering; SECOND, nominal damages, when no actual damages were sustained; and THIRD, punitive damages, when appropriate under applicable judicial standards. Wilson v. Prasse, 325 F. Supp. 9, 15 (E.D. Pa. 1971) aff'd. 463 F.2d 109 (3d Cir. 1972).
Plaintiff, in his amended complaint, dropped his claims for punitive damages and we would not, in any event, find them to be appropriate on the record before us. We find, however, that plaintiff is entitled to an award of actual or compensatory damages.
The final matter to be resolved, therefore, is the amount of our damage award. This troublesome problem has been handled in a variety of ways by the Courts. In Sostre v. Rockefeller, 312 F. Supp. 863 (S.D.N.Y. 1970), rev'd in part, sub nom., 442 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 1049, 92 S. Ct. 719, 30 L. Ed. 2d 740 (1972), plaintiff was subjected to segregated confinement without a due process hearing under conditions involving severe physical deprivations, needless degradation, loss of rehabilitative work opportunities, loss of wages, loss of schooling and training opportunities, loss of self-improvement through reading, etc., and great mental anguish. The Court awarded plaintiff $25.00 per day for 372 days spent in segregation, for a total of $9,300 in compensatory damages. The Court of Appeals reversed the additional award of $3,270 in punitive damages on the ground that the evidence was not sufficient to support a finding of the requisite pattern of misbehavior on the part of the prison officials to sustain such an award. The Court found, however, that the award of $25.00 per day compensatory damages was reasonable, but held that those damages could not be assessed against the named defendant since he was not a participant in the wrongful conduct perpetrated by his predecessor.
In Wright v. McMann, 321 F. Supp. 127 (N.D.N.Y. 1970), aff'd in part, 460 F.2d 126 (2d Cir. 1972), the District Court awarded a prisoner a flat $1,500.00 in compensatory damages for his confinement, completely nude, in an isolation cell stripped of all furnishings on several different occasions, for several days at a time. The Court of Appeals sustained the monetary award. See, also, United States ex rel. Larkins v. Oswald, 510 F.2d 583 (2d Cir. 1975) (jury verdict of $1,000.00 for 12 days of solitary confinement); United States ex rel. Neal v. Wolfe, 346 F. Supp. 569 (E.D. Pa. 1972) ($25.00 per day for 16 days of solitary confinement plus $0.60 per day for 191 days lost wages caused by a change in job status resulting from the illegal confinement).
Based on the uncontradicted evidence before us, we conclude that plaintiff has been injured in the following particulars, as a result of defendants' failure to provide plaintiff with a constitutionally adequate due process hearing: FIRST, plaintiff was illegally confined in a segregation cell from August 20, 1973 to September 19, 1973, a period of 30 days; SECOND, plaintiff was deprived during that 30 day period, of the benefit of Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation training which he was receiving in the field of electronics; THIRD, plaintiff was deprived of the benefit of substantial exercise during his illegal confinement, restricted as he was to only one ten minute walk in the yard, once a day, in contrast to the normal exercise period he would have enjoyed; FOURTH, plaintiff's wages from his work in the electric shop, amounting to $0.50 a day were cut off during his illegal confinement; FIFTH, and perhaps most important, during the 30-day period of solitary confinement, plaintiff was subjected to severe mental suffering and anguish. Deposition of Isiah Mack at pp. 14-16.
Obviously, there is not, and cannot be any precise formula for calculating damages. At best, courts in grappling with this issue, can only arrive at a damage figure which represents a judgment based upon considerations of equity, reason and pragmatism.
We find that the method utilized by the Courts in Sostre v. Rockefeller, supra, and United States ex rel. Neal v. Wolfe, supra, of assessing damages on a per diem basis, is, for want of a better method, the most sensible and satisfactory system a Court can use in the calculation of damages; we further find that the sum of $25.00 per day is a reasonable per diem figure.
We will therefore award the plaintiff the sum of $765.00 as compensatory damages for the injuries which he sustained as a result of defendants' conduct. This figure is calculated at the rate of $25.00 per day for 30 days of confinement, plus $0.50 per day in lost wages over the same 30 day period. Since Harry Godfried was the only defendant present at the August 20, 1973 hearing, we find him solely responsible for the first 11 days of plaintiff's improper confinement, for which we award plaintiff $280.50. Walter Smith, Daniel Sims, and Richard Parcell were participants in the August 31, 1973 hearing. We find these three defendants, along with defendant Godfried, jointly and severally liable in the amount of $484.50, the amount of compensatory damages for the remaining 19 days of unconstitutional confinements to which plaintiff was subjected.
An Order will issue accordingly.
BY THE COURT:
HERBERT A. FOGEL United States District Court
AND NOW, this 21st day of April, 1977, for the reasons set forth in the foregoing Opinion, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that in connection with the cross-motions for summary judgment in this matter, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED as to defendants Robert Johnson, Dennis Erhard, and William Johnson, and is GRANTED against defendants Walter Smith, Daniel Sims, Harry Godfried and Richard Parcell, jointly and severally, in the amount of $484.50, and against Harry Godfried, alone, in the additional amount of $280.50.
It is FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to defendants Robert Johnson, Dennis Erhard and William Johnson; that the complaint is DISMISSED as to those defendants; and that the motion is DENIED as to defendants Walter Smith, Daniel Sims, Harry Godfried and Richard Parcell.
BY THE COURT:
HERBERT A. FOGEL United States District Court