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Foreman v. Lowe

May 13, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Plaintiff Michael Troy Foreman initiated this pro se action by filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At the time of filing, Plaintiff, who is a Jamaican National, was detained in the S.N.U. at the Pike County Correctional Facility ("PCCF"), Lords Valley, Pennsylvania, pending his removal from the United States. Plaintiff subsequently was deported to Jamaica. (See Doc. 20.) Plaintiff alleges that, for a period of ten days in November and December 2006, his cell was inadequately heated, thus subjecting him to freezing temperatures. He claims that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his requests to repair the heating unit or to provide him with extra blankets.

Presently pending before the Court are cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion will be granted, and Plaintiff's Motion will be denied.


I. Statement of Facts

On December 6, 2006, Foreman filed an informal grievance form complaining that he had been freezing in his cell for the past ten days or more. (Doc. 27 at 11, copy of PCCF Inmate Grievance Form filed on 12/6/06.) Foreman claimed that he had been informing correctional officers that his cell was ice cold, but nothing had been done about the situation except for maintenance staff reporting to the unit twice that day and "playing with the thermostat." (Id.)

Also on December 6, 2006, Corrections Officer Benko filed a maintenance work order stating that inmates in the S.N.U. had been complaining that they are cold and that the windows are drafty. (Id. at 14, Maintenance/Services Work Order.) The maintenance staff reported to the S.N.U. that day and recorded an internal temperature there of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. (Id. at 15.) They noted that the outside temperature was 21 degrees Fahrenheit. (Id.) On December 7, the maintenance staff checked the windows on the outside of the facility and determined that they were in good shape and nothing was in need of repair or caulking. (Doc. 27 ¶ 4, Affidavit of Warden Craig A. Lowe.) On December 8, the maintenance staff returned to the S.N.U., reset the thermostat to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and recorded a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the S.N.U. cells and exterior cells. (Id. at 16.) They noted that the outside temperature on December 8 was 13 degrees Fahrenheit. (Id.)

On December 11, 2006, the temperature of the airflow coming out of the vent in Foreman's cell was recorded to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (Doc. 27 at 12, Shift Commander Informal Grievance Resolution Form.) The temperature in Foreman's cell was recorded at 73 degrees Fahrenheit. (Id.) Foreman indicated on the bottom of the Shift Commander's Information Grievance Resolution Form that he was satisfied with the response and did not wish to pursue the issue further. (Id.)

However, later that day, Foreman filed a new grievance again complaining that it is "continuously cold" in the S.N.U. cells and that no heat was coming out of his vent. (Id. at 18, copy of PCCF Inmate Grievance Formfiled 12/11/06.) Foreman alleged that he made a mistake in checking the box on his previous grievance form indicating that he was satisfied with the response, but Sergeant Langbein refused to allow him to correct the mistake after the form had been submitted. (Id.) In his new grievance, Foreman also alleged that, as a result of the conditions in his cell, he had contracted a cold for which he had been examined by medical staff. (Id.) In their response to his grievance, PCCF staff indicated that maintenance staff had examined Foreman's cell and determined that the temperature was within "acceptable parameters." (Id.) PCCF staff further noted that Foreman had been advised that he should feel free to submit requests for medical attention. (Id.)

Foreman appealed to the Grievance Committee. In their January 2, 2007 response, the Committee agreed with the shift commander's response based on the fact that "the unit was checked by the maintenance department and was determined to be within normal limits." (Id. at 19, P.C.C.F. Level II and III Appeals Form.) Foreman's final appeal to the Warden also was denied on January 4, 2007. (Id. at 20.) In his response, Warden Lowe noted that the temperature inside Foreman's cell on December 6 was 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and on December 8 was 70 degrees Fahrenheit. (Id.)

The PCCF follows the American Correctional Association's Performance-Based Standards for Adult Local Detention Facilities ("ACA Standards"). (Doc. 27 ¶ 2.) The ACA Standards include 4-ALDF-1A-20, which states that, "Temperature and humidity are mechanically raised or lowered to acceptable comfort levels." (See id. at 5.) The Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services ("INS"), under whose authority Foreman was detained, also follows the ACA standards. (See id. at 9.)

II. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on January 12, 2007 (Doc. 1). By Order dated February 6, 2007, his Complaint was dismissed for failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 8.) Although Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on February 12, 2007 (Doc. 10), he immediately filed a motion to amend his complaint (Doc. 11). By Order dated February 20, 2007, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file a Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 12).

Service of Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 13) was directed on March 2, 2007. (Doc. 14.) In addition to the Warden of PCCF, Craig A. Lowe, Plaintiff names the following PCCF employees as Defendants: A.W. Romance; A.W. McLaughlin; Lieutenant Kumburis; Lieutenant Campos; Sergeant Frawley; Sergeant DeMarco; and ...

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