UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
July 17, 1998
LEVERNE DOUGLAS, Plaintiff,
WARDEN JOHN MURPHY, RECORD ROOM OFFICER ROBERT DURISON, SOCIAL WORKER JOYCE ADAMS, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATZ
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
July 17, 1998
Plaintiff Douglas, who is incarcerated at SCI Graterford, has filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging that defendants have violated his constitutional rights by detaining him for four months and seventeen days past his maximum sentence date. See Def. Mot. Ex. A. Douglas claims that defendant Murphy, Warden at CFCF, showed a "clear deliberate indifference" by refusing to intervene or investigate two complaints; that defendant Durison, the "Director of Classification Movement and Registration" for the City of Philadelphia Prison System, also showed "clear deliberate indifference" by refusing to release him from county prison, even though he knew that his maximum sentence had passed; and that Social Work Supervisor Adams also showed "clear deliberate indifference" by refusing to investigate his case and by intentionally causing delays in his paperwork. See id. Defendants now move for summary judgment.
The detention of a prisoner beyond the termination of his sentence can state an Eighth Amendment violation if that detention occurs without penological justification. See Moore v. Tartler, 986 F.2d 682, 686 (3d Cir. 1993). In order to establish § 1983 liability in such a case, a plaintiff must demonstrate three elements:
First, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a prison official had knowledge of the prisoner's problem and thus of the risk that unwarranted punishment was being, or would be, inflicted. Second, the plaintiff must show that the official either failed to act or took only ineffectual action under the circumstances, indicating that his/her response to the problem was a product of deliberate indifference to the prisoner's plight. Finally, the plaintiff must show a causal connection between the official's response to the problem and the unjustified detention.
Id. at 686, citing Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1110 (3d Cir. 1989).
In evaluating a plaintiff's case, "among the circumstances relevant to a determination of whether the requisite attitude (deliberate indifference) is present are the scope of the official's duties and the role the official played in the everyday workings of the prison." 986 F.2d at 686. Moreover, not every official who is aware of a problem will be found to exhibit deliberate indifference by failing to resolve it. See id. A court may find the requisite deliberate indifference in cases where prison officials were put on notice of a prisoner's dispute and then refused to investigate the claim of miscalculation, or where the investigation was so inept and ineffectual that it demonstrates deliberate indifference. See id. at 686-87.
As for defendants Murphy and Adams, plaintiff has produced no evidence that these defendants were aware that he was disputing his incarceration. Summary judgment is therefore appropriate as to these defendants. As for defendant Durison, once he became aware of Douglas's disputes as to his sentence, he instructed his office to investigate Douglas's status. See Def. Mot. Ex. B. Based on that investigation, Durison avers that Douglas served exactly his minimum release time within the Philadelphia Prison System. See id. Ex. B. Douglas has not demonstrated that defendant Durison either failed to investigate, or that his investigation was so inept or ineffectual that the court may infer deliberate indifference on his part. See Moore, 986 F.2d at 687. Summary judgment is therefore appropriate for defendant Durison as well.
An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this 17th day of July, 1998, upon consideration of defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, and the response and reply thereto, it is hereby ORDERED that said motion is GRANTED.
BY THE COURT:
MARVIN KATZ, J.
AND NOW, this 17th day of July, 1998, it is hereby ORDERED that judgment is entered in favor of the defendants John Murphy, Robert Durison, and Joyce Adams and against plaintiff Leverne Douglas.
BY THE COURT:
MARVIN KATZ, J.