The opinion of the court was delivered by: Malachy E. Mannion, United States Magistrate Judge
Presently pending before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss
the plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. No. 6).
Plaintiff, a former inmate at the State Correctional Institution at
Frackville, ("SCI-Frackville"), Pennsylvania,*fn1 filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which he alleges a
violation of his constitutional rights. (Doc. No. 1).
The plaintiff has named the following as defendants to this action:
Martin F. Horn, Secretary of the Department of Corrections; Joseph
Chesney, Warden, SCI-Frackville; and thirty (30) "Unknown CERT
The proper filing fee having been paid, it was directed that process
issue in an order dated September 27, 2000. (Doc. No. 3).
On October 20, 2000, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's complaint, along with a brief in support thereof. (Doc. Nos. 6
& 7). The plaintiff filed his brief in opposition to the defendants'
motion on November 8, 2000. (Doc. No. 9). On January 24, 2001, the
parties consented to proceed before a United States magistrate judge.
(Doc. No. 11).
In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges the following:
On May 17, 2000, defendants Horn and Chesney authorized thirty (30)
CERT officers to conduct "a live exhibition/exercise"*fn3 at
SCI-Frackville within the Restricted Housing Unit, ("RHU"). With "invited
civilians" looking on, the CERT officers forcefully extracted him from
his cell and "carried/dragged" him to the RHU exercise area, where he was
placed in a "cage" and left there with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Approximately twenty (20) CERT officers, fully equipped with assorted
weapons, were lined up against the wall in the exercise area, causing him
to become fearful and emotionally distressed.
Approximately thirty (30) to forty-five (45) minutes later, he was
again "carried/dragged" back to the RHU, uncuffed, strip-searched,
re-cuffed and put back into his cell. As he was being taken from the
exercise area the CERT officers "abruptly shoved [him] into a secluded
doorway, and with their hands on the back of his head, mashed his face
into its corner while screaming at [him] not to turn around . . ."
During this time, the CERT officers were waiting for two (2) other
inmates who were being strip-searched ahead of him.
In addition, the plaintiff alleges that he was repeatedly cuffed and
uncuffed and that his arms were repeatedly twisted behind his back by
CERT officers, causing him "severe pain" which constituted excessive
force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He suffered "humiliation and
emotional distress" as a result of the strip search and the CERT officers
violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy by conducting the
procedure in front of others. Finally, he alleges that defendants Horn and
Chesney are liable for failing to adequately supervise and/or train the
CERT officers. (Doc. No. 1, Attached Statement of Claims).
The plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and
punitive damages. (Id.).
Generally speaking, federal court jurisdiction is limited to actual
cases and controversies in which a plaintiff has a personal stake in the
outcome. U.S. Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388 (1980).
Further, the case or controversy must be a continuing one and must be
live at all stages of the proceedings. Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22, 27
(3d Cir. 1981). Since the plaintiff has been transferred from
SCI-Frackville to SCI-Greene, he is no longer subject to forced
participation in the RHU's emergency preparedness and fire evacuation
drills. As a result of his transfer, plaintiff no longer has standing to
seek injunctive relief. That claim is moot. Preiser v. Newkirk,
422 U.S. 395, 401 (1975); Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195, 206-207 (3d
Cir. 1993); Gibbs v. Wadsworth, 919 F.2d 731 (3d Cir. 1990) (Table);
and, Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22, 26-27 (3d Cir. 1981).
To the extent that the plaintiff is alleging an Eighth Amendment
excessive force claim, in Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992), the
Supreme Court held that "whenever prison officials stand accused of using
excessive physical force . . . the core judicial inquiry is . . . whether
force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore
discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Id. at pp.
6-7. In reaching this conclusion, the Court specifically rejected a
"deliberate indifference" standard for judging claims of excessive use of
force, finding that standard inappropriate when corrections officials
must make decisions "in haste, under pressure, and frequently without the
luxury of a second chance." Id. at p. 6 (quoting Whitley v. Albers,
475 U.S. 312, 320 (1986)).
Consistent with this standard, not all tortious conduct which occurs in
prison rises to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation. See Howell v.
Cataldi, 464 F.2d 272, 277 (3d Cir. 1972) (Not all tortious conduct
redressable under state law constitutes cruel and unusual punishment).
"Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the
peace of the judge's chambers, violates a prisoner's constitutional
rights." Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033 (2d Cir.), cert denied,
414 U.S. 1033 (1983). Indeed, "[t]he Eighth Amendment's prohibition of
`cruel and unusual' punishment necessarily excludes from constitutional
recognition de minimus uses of physical ...