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Hall v. Shannon

May 31, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caldwell


I. Introduction

On August 7, 2006, pro se plaintiff, Eric Hall, an inmate housed at the Frackville State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Frackville"), Frackville, Pennsylvania, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the Court is Hall's Amended Complaint (doc. 40), Motion to Stay (doc. 43), Motion to Preserve Key Evidence (doc. 58), Motion to Correspond with Inmate Witnesses (doc. 72) and Motion to Compel Discovery (doc. 75).

Prior to resolving the various motions, the Court must screen the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 as Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. Having done so, the Court will dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 20, and deny Hall's various motions. Defendants will be directed to file an Answer to the original Complaint (doc. 1) or notify the Court if they intend to reinstate their previously filed Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or for a More Definite Statement and supporting brief (docs. 18 and 20).

II. Background

Plaintiff filed his original Complaint on August 7, 2006, complaining about events that occurred in July and August of 2004. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff named Superintendent Shannon, Corrections Officer ("CO") John Pugliese, Hearing Examiner Charles McKeown, Deputy Kerestes, Barbara Tritt, and Chief Hearing Examiner Bitner as Defendants. (Id.) He alleges that he complained to SCI-Frackville prison staff that CO Pugliese was harassing him. CO Pugliese allegedly denied Hall opportunities to shower, tampered with his personal property and threatened to send him to the institution's Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") if he complained. On August 5, 2004, CO Pugliese issued Hall a retaliatory misconduct after Plaintiff complained to his Unit Manager of CO Pugliese's harassment and mistreatment. (Doc. 1, Complaint).

Hearing Examiner Charles McKeown presided over Hall's misconduct hearing where Hall presented the testimony of inmate McNeil. At the conclusion of the hearing, Hall was found guilty of all charges and sanctioned 90 days' disciplinary custody ("DC"), August 5, 2004, through November 2, 2004. (Id.) Hall then appealed his misconduct hearing results through the Program Review Committee ("PRC") where J. Kerestes and B. Tritt concurred in the Hearing Examiner's findings. Superintendent Shannon agreed with the finding of guilt but reduced Hall's DC time to 60 days. Chief Hearing Examiner denied Hall's appeal at final review. (Id.)

At Hall's first PRC review before Kerestes, Miller and Kepner, Plaintiff told the PRC members that CO Pugliese issued him the misconduct in retaliation. Kerestes advised Hall that with positive housing reports he would consider Hall's early release from the RHU. On September 4, 2004, at his next PRC review before Kerestes, Tritt and Miller, Hall again repeated his claims that the misconduct was issued by CO Pugliese in retaliation for his complaints about his harassment. Kerestes then threatened Hall telling him "to either stop lying on the officer or he would not release [him] that day." (Id. at ¶ 15). Hall discontinued raising the issue and the PRC set Hall's release from DC as September 16, 2004. (Id.)

Hall, however, was not released back to general population until September 21, 2004, allegedly due to the unavailability of cell space. (Id. at ¶ 15). Hall filed grievance no. 96783 challenging his untimely release from the RHU.

The grievance was denied by Lt. Shade. Hall filed a second grievance, no.96781, concerning the emotional harm he suffered as a result of being exposed to excessive noise made by mentally ill inmates housed in the RHU. Lt. Shade denied that grievance as well and referred Hall to the institution's psychiatrist Hall was later placed on psychotropic medication by Dr. Chakarovorty. Hall continues to take psychotropic medication. Hall complains that during his 48 days in the RHU he was denied contact visits, phone calls, access to the law library or commissary, reduced access to recreation and rehabilitative programs. (Id.)

On September 18, 2006, the Court screened his complaint, granted him in forma pauperis standing, and served the complaint on the named defendants. On October 16, 2006, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint or for More Definite Statement (doc. 18). After receiving an enlargement of time to respond to Defendants' motion, Hall filed a motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint (doc. 33). On December 4, 2006, the Court dismissed Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or Motion for a More Definite Statement without prejudice based on Plaintiff's request to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 40).

On December 26, 2006, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint. (See Doc. 48). Hall names as defendants in his Amended Complaint the following SCI-Frackville Department of Corrections ("DOC") employees: David Varano, Deputy Superintendent for Facilities Management; Joseph Miller, Major of the Guard; Hearing Examiner Kevin Kane; Captain Kneal, Intelligence Captain; Lt. William Shade, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. RHU Lieutenant/Area Commander; Sgt. Stotler, 2 p.m. - 10 p.m. RHU Sergeant; Sgt. Jepson, 2 p.m. -10 p.m. RHU Relief Sergeant; CO Reichert; CO Sarkowski; CO Hughes; CO Albert; Suzanne L. Domekakes, Librarian; and Donald E. Dudash, Sr., Assistant Librarian. (Id.)

Briefly stated, the Amended Complaint seeks to add new defendants and new claims for events that occurred in July through October 2006. Hall pleads access-to-courts claims, harassment and retaliation by correctional officers other than CO Pugliese, interference with his legal mail, medical claims, an allegation of an October 18, 2006, ...

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