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Williams v. Commonwealth

December 4, 2006

CHARLES WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Christopher C. Conner United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

This is a § 1983 actions initiated by plaintiff Charles Williams ("Williams"), an inmate incarcerated at the state correctional institutional at Rockview ("SCIRockview") for injuries allegedly sustained during his participation in the Therapeutic Community Unit ("TCU") at SCI-Rockview. The remaining defendant is Norris B. Webb ("Webb"), the Director of the TCU program.

I. Procedural History

Because the parties are familiar with this action's extensive procedural history, the court will recount only the most recent events. By mandate entered September 7, 2005 (Doc. 83), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed this court's decision regarding dismissal as to all defendants except Norris Webb. With regard to the dismissal of defendant Webb, the Third Circuit ruled that Williams had not failed to exhaust those claims against Webb that fell within the ambit of Williams' June 7, 1999 inmate grievance, ROC-0404-99. The Third Circuit directed that the matter be remanded for consideration of these claims.

Upon remand, the court issued a scheduling order setting the matter for trial on January 3, 2006. (See Doc. 84.) Thereafter, Webb sought leave of court to file a second motion for summary judgment (see Doc. 101), which the court granted on December 1, 2005 (see Doc. 103).

Upon review of the parties' briefs, the court noted that neither party had complied with Local Rule 56.1, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

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. The papers opposing a motion for summary judgment shall include a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts, responding to the numbered paragraphs set forth in the statement required in the foregoing paragraph, as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried. Statements of material facts in support, or in opposition to, a motion shall include references to the parts of the record that support the statements.

Accordingly, on May 16, 2006, the court ordered the parties to supplement their L.R. 56.1 statements. (See Doc. 121.) Webb filed a supplemental statement on May 30, 2006 (Doc. 122) and Williams filed his response to Webb's statement on June 16, 2006 (Doc. 124). This matter is now ripe for disposition.*fn1

II. Factual Background*fn2

The facts pertinent to Webb's second motion for summary judgment are principally undisputed. The TCU program is a program designed to teach discipline and responsibility through the guidance of peer inmates.*fn3 The program maintains a hierarchy of peer inmates who perform various unit activities in a communal effort to repress aggressive and assaultive inmate behavior. Inmates who demonstrate the desired traits of restraint and responsibility are ultimately designated as "teachers" and are given responsibility for guiding other inmates in the program. (Doc. 122 ¶¶ 3, 5; Doc. 124 ¶¶ 3, 5.)

If an inmate housed in the TCU fails to perform certain assigned activities he is identified as a "misfit" and subject to disciplinary action.*fn4 This disciplinary action may require the inmate to perform calisthenics or various housekeeping functions such as mopping and sweeping and emptying trash cans. (Doc. 122 ¶¶ 3, 5; Doc. 124 ¶¶ 3, 5.) Ostensibly, inmate teachers are expected to verify that an inmate is not on medical restriction before subjecting the inmate to misfit coordination. (Doc. 122 ¶ 6; Doc. 124 ¶ 6.)

If an inmate is designated for misfit coordination but refuses to participate in the disciplinary action, the inmate may be placed on "non-function" status. Inmates who are on non-function status live in the TCU housing unit but do not participate in unit activities. If an inmate remains on non-function status for an extended period of time, he may be removed from the program and returned to a regular housing unit in the institution's general population. (Doc. 122 ¶¶ 7-9; Doc. 124 ¶¶ 7-9.)

According to his grievance (ROC-0404-99), Williams alleges that another inmate directed him to carry a crate of books weighing approximately sixty pounds. After initial compliance with the "teacher's" directive, Williams requested that he be given some other task. The inmate ordered Williams to perform push-ups. Allegedly, while Williams was performing push-ups, the "teacher" inmate placed the crate of books weighing approximately sixty pounds on Williams' back. Although the grievance is somewhat unclear as to what transpired next, Williams was apparently placed on non-function status based upon his inability to continue to participate in the "misfit coordination" involving the crate of books. (Doc. 99, Ex. 2.)

On May 11, 1999, Williams was called into Webb's office and asked why he was on non-function status. Williams explained the episode involving the crate of books. Apparently, Webb was unsympathetic and advised Williams that he would be required to go through another "misfit coordination" or he would be terminated from the TCU program. (Doc. 99, Ex. 2.) Shortly thereafter, Williams was placed ...


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