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AFRICA v. HORN

March 19, 1998

CHARLES SIMS AFRICA
v.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN HORN, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALDMAN

 WALDMAN, J.

 March 19, 1998

 Presently before the court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Plaintiff, an inmate at SCI Graterford, has alleged that his placement in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") because of his refusal to take a tuberculosis test violated his First Amendment rights and subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment.

 In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must determine whether the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Arnold-Pontiac-GMC, Inc. v. General Motors Corp., 786 F.2d 564, 568 (3d Cir. 1986). Only facts that may affect the outcome of a case under applicable law are "material." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

 All reasonable inferences from the record must be drawn in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 256. Although the movant has the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of genuine issues of material fact, the non-movant must then establish the existence of each element on which she bears the burden of proof. J.F. Feeser, Inc. v. Serv-A-Portion, Inc., 909 F.2d 1524, 1531 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 499 U.S. 921, 113 L. Ed. 2d 246, 111 S. Ct. 1313 (1991)(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986)). The non-moving party may not rest on his pleadings but must come forward with evidence from which a reasonable jury could return a verdict in his favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. 242 at 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505; Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989); Woods v. Bentsen, 889 F. Supp. 179, 184 (E.D. Pa. 1995).

 From the evidence of record, as uncontroverted or viewed most favorably to plaintiff, the pertinent facts are as follow.

 Plaintiff was transferred, consistent with prison policy, from the general prison population at Graterford to the RHU because he refused to take a PPD test for tuberculosis. Inmates in the RHU are placed either in administrative custody status (AC) or disciplinary custody status (DC). The conditions under which an inmate is held vary depending on whether he has AC or DC status.

 Plaintiff was placed in AC status. While plaintiff was in the RHU, he was found guilty of misconduct for threatening a corrections officer and ordered to serve 45 days in DC status. At all other points in plaintiff's segregation he was in AC status.

 After several weeks, plaintiff submitted to a chest X-ray which was negative. Prison officials, however, continued to hold him in the RHU because he still refused to submit to a PPD test.

 The Program Review Committee ("PRC"), on which defendants Lorenzo, Callender and Smith served, conducts 30 day reviews for all AC or DC status inmates in the RHU. During a 30 day review, the PRC decides if the inmate should continue to be held in the RHU and what the terms of his confinement will be. An inmate may raise during a review any problems or complaints he has. The PRC will then follow up and respond.

 Plaintiff refused to take a PPD test because to do so would violate the tenets of MOVE which plaintiff states is his religion. Plaintiff states that any puncturing of the skin by injection is prohibited by MOVE. This was related to the PRC.

 Under current Department of Corrections policy on tuberculosis control, an inmate who refuses to take a PPD test must be placed by prison authorities in administrative custody. If the inmate continues to refuse PPD testing, he must be maintained in AC status for 12 months. If a 12 month chest X-ray is normal and the inmate is asymptomatic, he is released from AC status and will be managed as "PPD." Consistent with this policy, plaintiff was released into the general population after 12 months in the RHU.

 To sustain his First Amendment claim, plaintiff must initially demonstrate that MOVE is a religion. Africa v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 662 F.2d 1025, 1030 (3d Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 908, 72 L. Ed. 2d 165, 102 S. Ct. 1756 (1982). The general indicia of a religion include a comprehensive belief system which addresses fundamental questions regarding life and morality and which has formal signs or structural characteristics such as ceremonies, obsevances and organization. 662 F.2d at ...


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