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Waters v. Tennis

July 28, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane United States District Judge

(Judge Kane)


Plaintiff, Richard Waters ("Waters"), an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview ("SCI-Rockview"), Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights on November 16, 2004. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff is proceeding via an amended complaint. (Doc. 47). Presently pending is a motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) filed on behalf of defendants Tennis, Goodman, Walker, Grassmyer and Craig.*fn1 (Doc. 64). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Allegations of the Complaint

Water, at all relevant times, was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview ("SCI-Rockview") in the Restricted Housing Unite ("RHU"). On January 30, 2004, he was beaten about the head and face and knocked to the floor by inmate Dealmaida who, according to Waters, had a history of unstable behavior and violent outbreaks. (Doc. 47, pp. 3-4). Waters was transported to Mount Nittany Hospital where he was diagnosed with numerous contusions and bruises to his head and face, a fractured cheek bone, a fractured eye socket and facial lacerations. (Doc. 47, p. 5). He indicates that although he was assured the inmate Dealmaida would be transferred to another institution, on October 25, 2004, he encountered Dealmaida on two separate occasions, in the prison yard and in the cafeteria.

Waters alleges that despite having actual knowledge of inmate Dealmaida's behavioral problems, mental disorders that caused violent episodes, and refusal to take his medication, defendant Grassmyer demonstrated reckless indifference by placing him in the same cell as Dealmaida. He also alleges that defendants Grassmyer, Goodman, Walker and Craig acted with reckless indifference in exercising a practice that allowed him to be housed with inmate Dealmaida despite their knowledge of his record of institutional violence. He further alleges that these defendants acted with deliberate indifference in failing to sufficiently allocate security staff throughout the RHU.

With regard to defendant Tennis, plaintiff takes issue with the fact that defendant Tennis promoted a policy that allowed violent inmates to be double-bunked with non-violent inmates in the RHU. He also takes issue with the lack of enforcement of the policy governing the separation of inmates who have been involved in physical altercations.

II. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a claim that fails to assert a basis upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). In the context of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. Langford v. City of Atlantic City, 235 F.3d 845, 847 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts alleged in the complaint, it "may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (stating that, although "a district court ruling on a motion to dismiss may not [generally] consider matters extraneous to the pleadings[,] . . . a document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint" may be considered "without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment") (quoting Shaw v. Digital Equip. Corp., 82 F.3d 1194, 1224 (1st Cir. 1996)).

The court will not dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond a doubt that "no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002). "The complaint will be deemed to have alleged sufficient facts if it adequately put[s] the defendant on notice of the essential elements of the plaintiff's cause of action." Langford, 235 F.3d at 847. The court must grant leave to amend before dismissing a complaint that is merely deficient. See Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000).

III. Discussion

A. Eleventh Amendment

State officials are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity for claims seeking money damages against them in their official capacities. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991); Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989); Corey v. White, 457 U.S. 85 (1982). Since the Department of Corrections is a state agency, all of its employees, acting in their official capacities, are protected by the Eleventh Amendment. Therefore, to ...

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