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Tampico v. Holt

March 31, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kane


Before the Court are the Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 26) and a Report and Recommendation from Magistrate Judge Blewitt (Doc. No. 36) recommending that Defendant's motion be granted. Also before the Court are the Plaintiff's Objection to Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 38) and the Defendant's Brief in Opposition to Plaintiff's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 39).

I. Factual Background

On October 25, 2004, Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 against three employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). On May 5, 2005, the Plaintiff's claims against two of the defendants were dismissed for failure to state a claim.

Plaintiff is currently serving a thirty-year sentence for possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2252-2252A. On September 2, 2003, Plaintiff was transferred to FCI-Schuylkill. Plaintiff avers that at FCI-Schuylkill he was subjected to threats of physical violence from inmates due to the nature of his offense. To ensure Plaintiff's safety, he was placed in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"). Plaintiff also requested a transfer to a different correctional facility. As a result of the threats and Plaintiff's requests, it was determined that Plaintiff would have to remain in the SHU disciplinary-free for twelve to eighteen months before his transfer request would be considered.

Defendant Warden Holt, began working at FCI-Schuylkill on August 8, 2004. On October 25, 2004, Warden Holt authorized Plaintiff's transfer to USP-Lewisburg. The transfer was approved by the regional office on October 26, 2005, and Plaintiff was transferred to USPLewisburg in December, 2005.

In his complaint, Plaintiff contends that the regional BOP policy requiring inmates to spend twelve to eighteen months in SHU while awaiting transfer violates his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection, because BOP policy ordinarily permits detention in the SHU for only 90 days. Plaintiff also contends that this policy leads to overcrowding in the SHU and that Plaintiff was forced to sleep on the floor and denied the required minimum square footage per inmate. Plaintiff also claims that while in the SHU he was denied access to magazines in violation of his First Amendment rights. Plaintiff asks the Court to: (1) order his immediate transfer out of FCI-Schuylkill to a facility "where he would have the measure of freedom and security common to the mainstream of federal inmates; and, if such a facility does not exist, to establish an appropriate institution without delay;" (2) order the Northeast Region of the BOP to discontinue its policy of holding inmates in the SHU for twelve to eighteen months pending transfer; (3) order Warden Holt to allow possession of magazines by inmates in the SHU; and (4) award Plaintiff monetary damages for his unlawful detention, missed educational opportunities, and deprivation of magazines. Plaintiff also seeks reimbursement of postage and photocopying costs.

II. Motion for Summary Judgment

Defendant Holt asserts he is entitled to summary judgment for three separate reasons. First, Defendant Holt argues that he was not personally involved in the alleged deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights, because he did not become Warden at FCI-Schuylkill until August 8, 2005, less than ninety days before Plaintiff's transfer to USP-Lewisburg. Secondly, Defendant Holt asserts that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim because Plaintiff's claims to not rise to the level of Constitutional violations. Finally, Defendant Holt contends that he entitled to qualified immunity from Plaintiff's claims.

III. Magistrate Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge Blewitt recommends that Defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted, and judgment be entered in favor of Defendant Holt. This recommendation is based on Judge Blewitt's finding that there are no undisputed facts bearing on the issue of whether Defendant Holt was personally involved in the alleged deprivation of Plaintiff's rights. Furthermore, Judge Blewitt also found that Defendant cannot be liable based only on his supervisory position, and Plaintiff has not shown that Defendant had a "sufficient nexus to his constitutional claims necessary for liability to attach to him." (Doc. No. 36 at 12).

IV. Discussion

A. Defendant Was Nnot Personally Involved in Deprivation of Plaintiff's Rights

In his objection to Judge Blewitt's Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff's main argument is that Defendant was personally involved in the alleged Constitutional violations, and, accordingly, summary judgment is not appropriate. Plaintiff also makes several objections, many of which are outside the scope of this action, legally meritless, or not based on ...

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