Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


August 1, 1997

MARTIN F. HORN, et al., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATZ

 AND NOW, this 1st day of AUG., 1997, upon consideration of defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, and the response thereto, it is hereby ORDERED that defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

 I. Facts

 In this § 1983 action, plaintiff Richard Wilson ("Wilson") asserts a number of claims against individual prison officials at SCI-Frackville and the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Wilson is a general prison population inmate housed in a general population tier; the wing directly above him houses inmates in disciplinary custody. Def. Mot. Exs. 1, 2. He also alleges that the area is vermin-infested, extremely noisy, that the window in his cell has been broken and that his cell is cold in the winter, and that the combination of these conditions constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Id.. Exs. 1, 2. He also alleges that individual defendants have attacked him or deliberately made noise to upset him. Id. Ex. 1; Pl. Resp. Ex. 3. On September 24, 1996, Wilson was moved to a single cell. Def. Mot. Ex. 1. On or about October 14, 1996, Wilson wrote to defendant Schueren, the Unit Manager, complaining that defendant O'Donnell, a corrections officer, told him he could not speak to prisoners in a restricted area. Id. Ex. 2. On October 15, 1996, Schueren responded to plaintiff and told him that he was not allowed to yell to inmates on D.C. (disciplinary custody) status and carry on a conversation. Id. On November 1, 1996, plaintiff complained that food was thrown outside his cell door, that his cell was infested with mice, and that his cell had no heat. Id. Schueren responded to his complaint on November 9, 1996 and stated that the block was regularly cleaned and disinfected, and that the temperature was continuously monitored. Id. On January 12, 1997, Wilson complained that defendant O'Donnell would stand outside his cell door and bang his keys on the railing. Id. Schueren responded to his complaint on January 15, 1997. Id. Plaintiff went to sick call on January 14, 1997 and February 11, 1997 and complained of insomnia due to excessive noise and received medication for his insomnia. Pl. Response Exs. 7-8. On March 11, 1997, on a follow-up visit, Wilson reported that he was pleased with the medication he had received, "because it helps me to sleep and to relax at night." Id. Ex. 9. *fn1" Wilson has alleged a variety of constitutional claims against the defendants, and the court will address each in turn.

 II. Discussion

 A. Conditions of Confinement

 Wilson's allegations of substandard conditions cannot withstand defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison officials to "provide humane conditions of confinement; prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must take 'reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmate.'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 114 S. Ct. 1970, 1976, 128 L. Ed. 2d 811 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27, 82 L. Ed. 2d 393, 104 S. Ct. 3194 (1984)). Wilson's claims must salsify an objective and subjective element: neither is satisfied in his case. First, the conditions at issue must be, "objectively, sufficiently serious," and an official's act or omission "must result in the denial of 'the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.'" Farmer, 114 S. Ct. at 1977 (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 69 L. Ed. 2d 59, 101 S. Ct. 2392 (1981)). A plaintiff must prove that the deprivation is sufficiently serious in fact and in light of "contemporary standards of decency." Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 113 S. Ct. 2475, 2482, 125 L. Ed. 2d 22 (1993). Although a combination of conditions of confinement may present an Eighth Amendment violation when a single condition might not do so on its own, such allegations are only successful "when they have a mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need such as food, warmth, or exercise--for example, a low cell temperature at night combined with a failure to issue blankets." See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 304, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271, 111 S. Ct. 2321 (1990).

 The second, subjective, element requires that the defendants have a sufficiently culpable state of mind, or "deliberate indifference." See Farmer, 114 S. Ct. at 1977. The Farmer court defined the requisite state of mind for a finding of "deliberate indifference" for an Eighth Amendment claim:

A prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference . . . . An official's failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived but did not, while no cause for commendation, cannot under our cases by condemned as the infliction of punishment.

 Farmer, 114 S. Ct. at 1979. As a result, the Farmer court adopted subjective recklessness as the test for deliberate indifference in Eighth Amendment claims. Id. at 1980.

 Wilson has documented problems that he finds both upsetting and uncomfortable, but they do not meet the requirements of the objective element of an Eighth Amendment claim. See, e.g., Seiter, 501 U.S. at 304; Kemp v. Hatcher, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15741, Civ. A. No. 96-7, 1996 WL 612834, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 25, 1996). Wilson has not demonstrated a material question as to whether he has been denied the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, nor has he demonstrated a deprivation of a particular need.

 B. Failure to Respond to Grievances

 Wilson names James Forr, the Grievance Coordinator for Frackville, and Robert Bittner, the Officer for the Central Review Committee, Department of Corrections, as defendants for failing to respond to his grievances. Prisoners are not constitutionally entitled to a grievance procedure and the state creation of such a procedure does not create any federal constitutional rights. See, e.g., McGuire v. Forr, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3418, Civ. A. No. 94-6884, 1996 WL 131130, at *1 (E.D. Pa. March 21, 1996), aff'd, 101 F.3d 691 (3d Cir. 1996); see also Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1022, 131 L. Ed. 2d 227, 115 S. Ct. 1371 (1995); Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988). Prisoners do have a constitutional right to seek redress of their grievances from the government, but that right is the right of access to the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.