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Shawley v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Corrections

February 22, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conaboy



Steven Allan Shawley, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Cresson, Pennsylvania, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Following service of the complaint, Defendants filed a motion requesting entry of summary judgment. See Doc. 13. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for consideration.

Named as Defendants are the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard and Lieutenant Anthony Russ of the DOC's Office of Professional Responsibility. Shawley is also proceeding against the following officials at his former place of confinement, the State Correctional Institution, Dallas, Pennsylvania (SCI-Dallas): Superintendent James Wynder, Deputy Superintendent for Security Thomas McGrady; Mailroom Supervisor Nancy Barry; Counselors William Buffton and Diana Dean; Captain Wayne Miller; Sergeants Phil Devers, John Konicki, and Bruce Moser; Correctional Officers Fritz Bleich, Wilk*fn1 , Bruce Ridila, John Galabinski and Mike Solarek. Also named are various John Doe prison officials.

Shawley states that on July 18, 2004, he initiated a grievance with the DOC's Office of Professional Responsibility maintaining that various Defendants had subjected him to abuse regarding his filing of "grievances, complaints and civil actions" Doc 1, ¶ 13. Defendants Russ and Beard allegedly failed to act on his grievance and simply referred the matter to Superintendent Wynder. As a result of that action, Plaintiff contends that he was subjected to further retaliatory abuse.

Specifically, on July 29, 2004, prisoners in neighboring cells "started shooting urine and feces" into his cell. According to the complaint, this abuse continued non-stop into the next day for a period of eighteen (18) hours.*fn2 Throughout this period and despite the fact that Shawley and his cell were covered in feces and urine, correctional staff including Defendants Miller, Bleich, Dean, Buffton, Moser, Solarek, Ridilla, and Galabinski allegedly ignored the Plaintiff's requests for assistance.

During the afternoon of July 30, 2004, Shawley was removed from his cell by Defendants Bleich and Konicki and placed in a cell next to a prisoner with a history of assaultive behavior. His requests to be placed in a different cell were denied. Thereafter, inmates in the adjacent cell "shot an unknown liquid into his cell causing Plaintiff to put a string around his neck at the door and blacking out." Id. at ¶ 23. As a result of both being sprayed with the liquid and his apparent suicide attempt, Shawley suffered injuries to his face and neck. He adds that despite his subsequent submission of complaints, no disciplinary or corrective measures were taken against the responsible correctional officials. In conclusion, Plaintiff contends that the Defendants' above described inactions were the result of a conspiracy and constituted a retaliatory failure to protect his safety. He additionally indicates that his injuries were also caused by the improper joint housing of administrative and disciplinary custody prisoners.

On August 2, 2004, Plaintiff was transferred to the mental health unit at the State Correctional Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania. His complaint alleges that legal papers, including documents pertaining to a federal court case, which were left behind at SCI-Dallas were not forwarded to him. His complaint claims that those legal materials were allegedly confiscated and destroyed. Furthermore, Shawley's pending case in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania was purportedly dismissed because Defendant Barry and other unidentified mail room staff confiscated/obstructed correspondence from the Commonwealth Court during both September and October, 2004.

In addition to his constitutional claims of retaliation, conspiracy, failure to protect and denial of access to the court, Shawley also asserts a pendent state law claim of negligence. He seeks injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages.



As noted above, the Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, specifically, a transfer from SCI-Dallas. It is equally well recognized that the adjudicatory power of a federal court depends upon "the continuing existence of a live and acute controversy." Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 459 (1974) (emphasis in original). "The rule in federal cases is that an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed." Id. at n.10 (citations omitted). "Past exposure to illegal conduct is insufficient to sustain a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief if unaccompanied by continuing, present adverse effects." Rosenberg v. Meese, 622 F. Supp. 1451, 1462 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) (citing O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 495-96 (1974)).

Furthermore, "[a]bsent class certification, an inmate's claim for injunctive and declaratory relief in a section 1983 action fails to present a case or controversy once the inmate has been transferred." Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1173 (11th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted); see also Carter v. Thompson, 808 F. Supp. 1548, 1555 (M.D. Fla. 1992).

On April 4, 2005, Plaintiff notified the Court that he had been transferred to the State Correctional Institution, Cresson, Pennsylvania (SCI-Cresson). See Record Doc. 40. There is no indication that Shawley will be returned to SCI-Dallas in the foreseeable future.

In light of his transfer from SCI-Dallas, Shawley has been afforded the injunctive relief sought by his complaint. Accordingly, his request for injunctive relief is subject to dismissal on the basis of ...

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