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CRIGHTON v. SCHUYLKILL CTY.

March 6, 1995

LYNDA CRIGHTON et al., Plaintiffs
v.
SCHUYLKILL COUNTY et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DANIEL H. HUYETT, 3RD

 HUYETT, J.

 This Memorandum and Order concerns the First Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiffs Linda Nedig, Bernadine DeAngelo, Carol Kalinich, Sandi Mendinsky, and Barbara Schwartz (collectively "Plaintiffs"). Pending before the Court is Defendants Schuylkill County, Warden David J. Kurtz, Paul Sheers, Franklin L. Shollenberger, Maryann Conway, Sheriff Francis McAndrew, Claude A. Lord Shields, and A. Thompson Rhoads' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART, DENIED IN PART.

 I. Introduction

 Plaintiffs are correctional officers employed by Schuylkill County ("the County") in the Schuylkill County Prison. Plaintiffs assert claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against the following defendants: John Kling, a former supervisor at the prison; the County; Warden David J. Kurtz; A. Thompson Rhoads, County Administrator; and five members of the Schuylkill County Prison Board -- Paul Sheers, Franklin L. Shollenberger, Maryann Conway, Sheriff Francis McAndrew, and Claude A. Lord Shields. With the exception of the County, Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

 Plaintiffs allege that since Defendant Kling was hired in 1989, he subjected female Schuylkill County Prison employees to a hostile work environment on the basis of their sex. First Am. Compl. at 3. Plaintiffs allege numerous examples of the behavior Kling directed towards Plaintiffs. First Am. Compl. at 4-7. In the summer of 1994, the County investigated Defendant Kling, and in September 1994, the County terminated his employment. First Am. Compl. at 7-8.

 Counts I through IX seek relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for denial of equal protection and civil rights. Counts I, II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX raise similar claims against the County, Kurtz, Sheers, Shollenberger, Conway, McAndrew, Shields, and Rhoads, respectively. In each count, Plaintiffs allege that the named defendant failed: (1) to provide Plaintiffs with a workplace free from physical and verbal sexual harassment, (2) to respond to complaints, (3) to thoroughly investigate complaints in a timely manner, (4) to discipline workers who perpetrated, acquiesced in, or ignored sexual harassment, and (5) to disseminate an anti-sexual harassment policy. First Am. Compl. at 11. Furthermore, Count I alleges that because Warden Kurtz knew about Kling's behavior since 1989, the County was liable pursuant to section 1983 for violations of the equal protection clause caused by a sexually discriminatory hostile working environment created by Defendant Kling in the prison.

 Count X alleges Defendants violated the Pennsylvania Equal Rights Amendment ("ERA"), Pa. Const. art. I, § 28, while Count XI alleges the County violated Art. I, § 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Counts XII, XIII, and XIV raise state negligence claims against Defendants Kurtz, Sheers, Shollenberger, Conway, McAndrew, Shields, and Rhoads.

 II. Discussion

 A. Standard of Review

 When deciding a motion to dismiss, district courts take as true all factual allegations in the complaint and all inferences that reasonably can be drawn from them. Piecknick v. Commonwealth of Pa., 36 F.3d 1250, 1255 (3d Cir. 1994); Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3d Cir. 1988). A district court may dismiss a complaint only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no facts which would justify relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957); Ransom, 848 F.2d at 401.

 B. Section 1983 Claim

 The Supreme Court has set forth the two essential elements of a section 1983 action: "(1) whether the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) whether this conduct deprived a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 101 S. Ct. 1908, 1913, 68 L. Ed. 2d 420 (1981); overruled ...


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