United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
December 6, 2005.
MICHAEL ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
LIEUTENANT VANCE, C.O. FALLS, AND C.O. MITCELLE[fn1] Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES McCLURE JR., District Judge
*fn1 The defendants identify themselves as Robert T. Vance,
James H. Falls, III, and Michael L. Mitchell.
On March 15, 2004, plaintiff Michael Andrews, a state prisoner
then incarcerated at SCI-Rockview, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania,
filed the instant civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Andrews alleges the defendants, employees of SCI-Rockview,
confiscated his mattress during a cell search and then deprived
him of a useable mattress for two days. Plaintiff allegedly
injured his back as a result of sleeping without a mattress.
Plaintiff seeks reimbursement of his filing fee, as well as
compensatory and punitive damages. Now before the court is defendants' motion for summary
judgment. For the following reasons we will grant the motion.
I. LEGAL STANDARD
It is appropriate for a court to grant a motion for summary
judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled a judgment as
a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
"If the nonmoving party has the burden of persuasion at trial,
`the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by
showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to
admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the
nonmovant's burden of proof at trial.'" Jalil v. Avdel Corp.,
873 F.2d 701, 706 (3d Cir. 1989) (quoting Chippolini v. Spencer
Gifts, Inc., 814 F.2d 893, 896 (3d. Cir. 1987)); see also
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
In evaluating a motion for summary judgment the court will draw
all reasonable inferences from the evidence in the record in
favor of the nonmoving party. Am. Flint Glass Workers Union v.
Beaumont Glass Co., 62 F.3d 574, (3d Cir. 1995). The nonmoving party, however, cannot defeat a motion
for summary judgment by merely offering general denials, vague
allegations, or conclusory statements; rather the party must
point to specific evidence in the record that creates a genuine
issue as to a material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 32;
Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. v. N.E. ex rel. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252
(3d Cir. 1999).
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A. Defendants Fail to Comply with Local Rule 56.1
First, we note that defendants have not complied with Local
Rule 56.1 which provides in relevant part: "A motion for summary
judgment filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, shall be
accompanied by a separate, short and concise statement of the
material facts, in numbered paragraphs as to which the moving
party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried." L.R. 56.1
(emphasis added). Defendants have, however, included a brief
six-sentence statement of undisputed facts in their brief in
support of their motion for summary judgment. (Def's Br. Supp.
Mot. Summ. J., Rec. Doc. No. 47-1, at 2.) Although the defendants
did not comply with the rule we are satisfied with this statement
of the facts as it is supported by citations to the evidence in
Plaintiff's terse Response to the Motion for Summary Judgment
essentially indicates that there is no dispute over any of the
issues of material fact. (Rec. Doc. No. 57).*fn2
B. Statement of Relevant Facts
In January 2004, plaintiff Michael Andrews was an inmate
incarcerated at SCI-Rockview. On January 6, 2004, plaintiff's
cell was searched and his mattress was removed from his cell.
This cell search was conducted as part of a "shakedown" at
SCI-Rockview. On or about January 7, 2004, corrections officers
offered to return plaintiff's seized mattress to him, but Andrews
refused to accept his mattress. Plaintiff received a new mattress
on January 8, 2004. Plaintiff did not notify the defendants about
the condition of his back during the time the mattress was
III. Plaintiff's Section 1983 Claim
Plaintiff's claim is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
the basis of alleged constitutionally impermissible prison
conditions when he was denied a mattress for two days. Section
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
. . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction
thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges,
or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,
shall be liable to the party injured in an action at
law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In order for a plaintiff to prevail under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 he
must establish two elements: 1) that the conduct complained of
was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and 2)
that the conduct deprived a person of rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 184 (3d Cir. 1993).
A. Defendants Are Immune From Suit In Their Official Capacity
Plaintiff's complaint does not allege that he is suing the
defendants in their official capacities. Nevertheless, defendants
in their motion for summary judgment assert that the named
defendants are immune from suit for money damages in their
official capacity under the Eleventh Amendment of the
United States Constitution. We agree that Pennsylvania has expressly
withheld consent to suit when it enacted its exception to
sovereign immunity, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8521, and that therefore the
defendants are immune from suit for money damages in their
official capacity. See Pennhurst v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89,
99-100 (1984) (in the absence of consent, the Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages against a
state, or where the state is the real party in interest); Will
v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (suit
brought against individual acting in his official capacity is
deemed to be suit against the state). To the extent plaintiff
sought monetary damages from defendants in their official
capacities his claim fails.
B. Deprivation of Andrews' Mattress For Two Days Does Not Rise to
an Eighth Amendment Violation
Plaintiff alleges that he was denied a mattress for two days
from January 6, 2004 through January 8, 2004. It is undisputed
that plaintiff went without bedding for those two days.
Defendants assert, however, and plaintiff admits, that plaintiff
was offered his original mattress as an interim solution. We note
in passing that the record indicates that the original mattress
may have been badly damaged, as it was allegedly ripped apart and
left near a trash can. (Def's Ex., Rec. Doc. No. 48, at 5, 10.)
Although we find it troublesome that plaintiff may have been
denied access to a useable mattress for two evenings, this
deprivation does not rise to a constitutional injury, and
therefore does not allow for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution
prohibits the infliction of cruel or unusual punishment.
U.S. Const. Amend. VIII. The Supreme Court has held that only "extreme deprivations are required to
make out a conditions of confinement claim." Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992). An Eighth Amendment prison
conditions claim requires proof of both objective and subjective
elements. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298-99
(1991).*fn3 Under the objective element, Andrews's claim
must state facts showing that the defendants deprived him of the
"minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. (citing
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. at 298 (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman,
452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981) (citation omitted)).
"The Constitution . . . `does not mandate comfortable
prisons.'" Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298 (quoting Rhodes,
452 U.S. at 298). "To the extent that . . . conditions [of confinement]
are restrictive and even harsh, they are part of the penalty that
criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society."
Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347. "In considering whether a prisoner has
been deprived of his rights, courts may consider the length of
time that the prisoner must go without those benefits." Hoptowit
v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1258 (9th Cir. 1982) (citing Hutto v.
Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 685 (1978)); see also Castro v.
Cheney, No. 97-4983, 1998 WL 767467, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 3, 1998) (Broderick, J.) (quoting
same). Therefore, "a condition of confinement which does not
violate the Eighth Amendment when it exists just a few days may
constitute a violation when it exists for `weeks or months.'"
Schroeder v. Kaplan, 60 F.3d 834 (Table), 1995 WL 3988878, *2
(9th Cir. July 7, 1995) (quoting Hutto, 437 U.S. at 686-87).
In the instant case, Andrews was denied a useable mattress for
two evenings. Andrews cannot satisfy the objective prong of his
Eighth Amendment claim with this deprivation. As respondents have
indicated, courts in this jurisdiction have held that denying
bedding to an inmate for a short period of time does not rise to
a constitutional violation. Castro, 1998 WL 767467, at *8 ("The
Court also finds that Plaintiff's allegation that he was deprived
of a mattress and blanket for a period of two days, even if
proved, would not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation.").*fn4 Other courts have likewise found that
denying an inmate a mattress for only a few days does not constitute a constitutional
violation. See Stephens v. Cottey, 145 F. App'x 179, 181 (7th
Cir. Aug. 11, 2005) (holding no Eighth Amendment violation exists
where prisoner spent three days without a mattress sleeping on a
metal bedframe and five days with no bedframe sleeping on the
floor); cf. Schroeder v. Kaplan, 60 F.3d 834 (Table), 1995 WL
398878, at *2 n. 6 (surveying district courts findings on whether
failure to provide a mattress violated the Eighth Amendment and
determining courts have "reached inconsistent conclusions"). The
facts, although unfortunate, viewed in a light most favorable to
the plaintiff, do not establish the objective component of an
Eighth Amendment claim. Therefore, we must grant defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is
granted. (Rec. Doc. No. 39.)
2. Final judgment is entered in favor of defendants
Robert T. Vance, James H. Falls, III, and Michael L.
Mitchell, and against plaintiff Michael Andrews.
3. The Clerk is directed close the case file.
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