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HORAK v. COUNTY OF BUCKS

April 13, 2004.

DONNA M. HORAK, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF BUCKS, et al., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN KATZ, Senior District Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this ___ day of April, 2004, upon consideration of Motion of Defendants County of Bucks, Charles H. Martin, Sandra Miller, Michael Fitzpatrick, Willlis Morton and Harris Gubernick for Summary Judgment, pursuantto Fed R. Civ. P. 56, Plaintiff Donna M. Horak's response thereto, Defendants' Reply, and Plaintiff's Surreply, it is ORDERED that said Motion is GRANTED based on the undisputed facts set forth below.

The problem, however, appears to be a recurring one. Bucks County's response has not risen above the level of deliberate indifference. Failure to take even stronger measures from this point forward could expose the County and its Commissioners to the risk of liability.

 Undisputed Facts

  1. Defendant County of Bucks (the "County") is a municipal governmental entity with two offices in Doylestown, PA. Compl. at ¶ 3.

  2. Defendants Charles Martin ("Martin"), Sandra Miller ("Miller"), and Michael Fitzpatrick ("Fitzpatrick") are the County Commissioners for Bucks County. Compl. at ¶ 4.

  3. Defendant Willis Morton ("Morton") is the Warden of the Bucks County Correctional Facility ("BCCF"). Compl. at ¶ 5. 4. Defendant Harris Gubernick ("Gubernick") is Director of Corrections for Bucks County. Compl. at ¶ 5.

  5. Plaintiff Donna Horak ("Horak") is a former BCCF inmate. Compl. at ¶ 2.

  6. Defendant David Rosser ("Rosser") is a former employee of Bucks County. Compl. at ¶ 6.

  7. On July 28, 2003, Rosser pled guilty to Institutional Sexual Assault, a third degree felony. Compl. at ¶ 20; Rosser Dep. at 18, 36.

  8. As of the date of the incidents between Rosser and Horak, the County of Bucks had issued various rules, including the Standard Operation Procedures, Code of Ethics, Discipline Policy and Table of Offenses. See Standard Operation Procedure 4.13; Disciplinary Policy; Table of Offenses; Rosser Dep. at 45-46, 50-57, 69-75, 91-96, 107-110.

  9. The BCCF Code of Ethics establishes professional boundaries, and expressly prohibits staff from engaging in intimate behavior or developing romantic relationships with inmates. Rosser Dep. at 45-46, 50-57, 59-75, 91-96.

  10. The Code of Ethics further prohibits employees from associating with inmates or their families and friends, and it requires that any such contact must be reported. Rosser Dep. at 45-46, 50-57, 69-75, 91-96.

  11. The Code of Ethics requires staff members to immediately report any conduct which threatens the professional operations of the facility. Rosser Dep. at 45-46, 50-57, 69-75, 91-96.

  12. Deputy Warden Mitchell directed that all staff sign off to acknowledge their receipt of the Code of Ethics. Rosser Dep. at 91. 13. As part of the Code of Ethics, the County also issued a new Discipline Policy that included a Table of Offenses. Rosser Dep. at 45-56, 50-57, 69-75.

  14. The Table of Offenses provides for 64 separate offenses that govern the conduct of the staff at the BCCF. Rosser Dep. at 45-46, 50-57, 69-75, 91-96.

  15. The Table of Offenses defines the appropriate level and range of discipline for each offense, with some variation depending on whether the staff member has committed similar previous infractions. Rosser Dep. at 69-75.

  16. The Table of Offenses provides for sanctions for misconduct, even if the misconduct does not rise to the level of criminal behavior. Rosser Dep. at 69-75.

  17. Among other things, the Table of Offenses prohibits "inappropriate physical contact or mistreatment of an inmate, patient, client, resident, or employee," Rosser Dep. at 69-70; BCDOC14.

  18. Similarly, the Table of Offenses forbids "improper or unauthorized contact with [an] inmate, undue familiarity with inmates, parolees, their families or friends. Rosser Dep. at 71-72; BCDOC42.

  19. The Table of Offenses also prohibits sexual harassment, and provides penalties against corrections officers who engage in sexual harassment. Rosser Dep. at 74-75.

  20. The BCDOC has issued an Inmate handbook that provides a procedure for inmates to raise complaints. See Inmate Handbook at 19-20; Rosser Dep. at 26-27'.

  21. In June 2002, the County conducted an in-service training on the topic of "Professionalism and Ethics for Correctional Staff." See Materials from the June 2002 in-service on "Professionalism and Ethics for Correctional Staff;" Rosser Dep. at 45-46, 89-91, 96-106; Morton Dep. at 15-16.

  22. The in-service in June 2002 consisted of three days of training for all officers on the following topics: Ethics/Professionalism, First Aid, CPR, and Fire Suppression. Rosser Dep. at 45-56, 89-91, 96-106.

  23. The Ethics/Professionalism class was an eight hour class covering unethical/inappropriate relationships, sexual harassment, values of diversity, and reporting of inappropriate relationships. Rosser Dep. at 45-56, 89-91, 96-106.

  24. The in-service training in June 2002 was given to all corrections officers, sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. Morton Dep. at 15-16.

  25. The in-service training in June 2002 included a multiple-choice test, a Power Point presentation, and distribution of documents that describe the "red flags" and the "myths and realities of staff ...


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