Original jurisdiction in the case of Clair Logan et al v. Ronald J. Marks and Ernest S. Patton.
Thomas M. Place, for petitioners.
Gregory R. Neuhauser, Deputy Attorney General, with him Francis R. Filipi, Deputy Attorney General and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.
MacPhail, J. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[75 Pa. Commw. 574 Page 576]
Petitioners, inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill,*fn1 commenced an action in our original jurisdiction in the nature of an action in mandamus requesting that we enter an order requiring the Respondents to afford to Petitioners two hours of daily out-of-cell exercise and, when weather permits, outdoor exercise as provided by law.*fn2 An answer has been filed by Respondents raising by way of new matter the defense of collateral estoppel to which Petitioners have replied. Inasmuch as the pleadings are closed, Respondents have filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment.*fn3 The motion may be granted only if there is no genuine issue of fact to be determined before judgment can be entered and the right to recovery is clear. Goldman v. McShain, 432 Pa. 61, 247 A.2d 455 (1968).
The defense of collateral estoppel will apply here if the following four elements are present: 1) the issue decided in the prior adjudication is identical with the one now before the court, 2) there was a final judgment on the merits in the prior action, 3) the party against whom the defense is asserted was a party to the prior action or was in privity with the party in the prior action and 4) the party against whom the defense is asserted has had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in question in the prior action. Safeguard Mutual Insurance Co. v. Williams, 463 Pa. 567, 345 A.2d 664 (1975).
[75 Pa. Commw. 574 Page 577]
Respondents assert that the case of DeGrange v. Robinson, Civil action 76-358 (M.D. Pa. December 2, 1977) forecloses the Petitioners' right to relief in the case sub judice. In DeGrange it was averred, inter alia,*fn4 that the action was brought on behalf of all other inmates of the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill,*fn5 that inmates confined in the Behavioral Adjustment Unit were released from their cells just 15 minutes each day from Monday through Saturday and were denied outdoor exercise and that this restriction on the inmates' exercise rights under the Act was in violation of their rights under the 8th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. Among other claims for relief, the inmates asked for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief which would prohibit the officials at Camp Hill from denying the inmates' right to exercise as provided in the Act.
From the record of the DeGrange case presented to us, it does not appear that that case was ever tried with or without a jury; rather, on a motion by one of the inmates, an order granting partial summary declaratory judgment relief as to certain claims in the complaint was entered*fn6 and the inmates' remaining claims were dismissed "with prejudice" subject to the terms and conditions contained in "Stipulations for Dismissal" attached to the order. The pertinent parts of the stipulations as they affect the issue now before us are:
1. That defendants continue to make every effort to provide a maximum amount of exercise each day to inmates in the Behavioral Adjustment Unit at the State Correctional Institution
[75 Pa. Commw. 574 Page 578]
at Camp Hill as set forth in the Behavioral Adjustment Unit Procedures for Daily Management; that at a minimum inmates in the Behavioral Adjustment Unit will be provided no less than one (1) hour of exercise per day, five days a week, inclusive of showers; that a reduction in the one (1) hour exercise period is permitted only where the captain of the watch determines that due to extraordinary circumstances the one (1) hour exercise period is not possible; ...