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Zimmerman v. Schaeffer

March 7, 2008

DUSTIN ZIMMERMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
CRAIG SCHAEFFER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

JUDGE SYLVIA H. RAMBO

MEMORANDUM

In this case, a number of current and former prisoners allege that they were abused by officials at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility ("MCCF") in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Defendants are Craig Schaeffer, Ronald Bilger, Chuck Chambers, Kathy Weaver, Barry Kearns, and Bernie Zook-all of whom are corrections officers and prison officials at MCCF-and Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Presently pending before the court is Plaintiffs' motion for class certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. For the reasons that follow, the motion will not be granted, and Plaintiffs' claims for equitable relief will be dismissed for lack of standing.

I. Background

A. Facts

Plaintiffs allege that they were abused by corrections officers at MCCF and that their treatment reflects a policy, practice, or custom of prisoner abuse in the facility. The allegations of each of the Plaintiffs as set forth in the second amended complaint, will be described in turn.

1. Dustin Zimmerman

Dustin Zimmerman was an inmate at MCCF from June 2005 until December 2005 and again from May 2007 until July 2007. (Doc. 59 ¶ 5.) On September 11, 2005 Zimmerman and his cellmate were beaten, sprayed with pepper spray, and tasered by Defendants. (Id. ¶ 20.) Both Zimmerman and his cellmate were handcuffed and shackled, and Zimmerman was carried into the main booking area and placed in a restraint chair. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23.) Defendant Bilger put Zimmerman in a chokehold while Defendants Shaeffer, Chambers, and Kearns restrained him. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23.) While he was being restrained by the other defendants, Brian Taylor tasered Zimmerman. (Id. ¶ 24.) Zimmerman was bound to the chair for approximately 12 hours, and when he requested to use the bathroom, Defendants threw a diaper at him. (Id. ¶ 26.) Zimmerman was not permitted to clean the burning pepper spray from his skin for fifteen hours. (Id. ¶ 27.)

2. Gary Searer

Gary Searer was an inmate at MCCF from March 2005 until March 2006. (Id. ¶ 6.) On November 8, 2005, Searer was removed from his cell by Defendants, and tied to a steel bed frame with plastic zip ties. (Id. ¶ 34.) Later he was put in a restraint chair. (Id.) Altogether, Searer was restrained for more than 50 hours on this occasion. (Id.) When Searer asked Defendants Weaver, Chambers, and Kearns to release him, they said that decision was up to Defendant Zook. (Id. ¶ 35-36.) Searer was released to his cell, where he found that the electric light had been removed and a steel plate had been placed over the window in the cell door so that the cell was dark all day. (Id. ¶ 37.) Searer remained in the dark for two months, and was denied showers for up to thirteen days at a time. (Id. ¶ 38.)Searer was also deprived of a mattress, sheets, and pillows for a two month period, and forced to sleep on the bare steel bed frame. (Id. ¶ 32.)Defendants also prevented Sealer from sending or receiving mail, including information about his legal rights. (Id. ¶ 39.) Searer also alleges that on at least one occasion prior to November 8, 2005, he was restrained by Defendants for more than 10 hours. (Id. ¶ 33.)

3. Justin Herb

Justin Herb was an inmate at MCCF on several occasions, including November 2006 to June 2007. (Id.¶7.) On November 8, 2005, Defendants removed Herb from his cell and restrained him for over 50 hours both in a restraint chair and tied to a steel bed frame. (Id. ¶ 45.)While tied to the bed, Herb alleges that the zip ties were fastened so tight that he was unable to move. (Id.) When Herb was released from the restraints and returned to his cell, he found that the electric light had been removed and the window in the cell door had been removed. (Id. ¶ 47.) Herb's cell remained dark for two months, during which time he was also denied a mattress, sheets, or pillows to sleep on, and he was not permitted to send or receive mail.*fn1 (Id. ¶ 48.) When Herb began banging his head against his cell wall due to his distress at the conditions in his cell, he was removed from his cell and placed in restraints for 12 hours. (Id. ¶¶ 49, 50.)Herb alleges that he was restrained by Defendants on previous occasions, both in a restraint chair and tied to a steel bed. (Id. ¶ 42.) On one of these occasions when Herb was placed in a restraining chair, he was forced to wear hinge cuffs that were fastened too tight and caused his hands to become swollen. (Id. ¶ 43.)

4. Raymond Sassaman

Raymond Sassaman is currently an inmate at MCCF, and he was also detained there from November 2006 until June 2007.(Id. ¶ 8.) On March 16, 2007 Sassaman objected when ordered to leave his cell, and Defendants responded by spraying his cell with pepper spray and threatening to taser him. (Id. ¶¶ 54-55.)Corrections officers took Sassaman, in handcuffs and shackled, to a Restricted Housing Unit. (Id. ¶ 55.) Corrections Officer Reik pressed Sassaman's face ...


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