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Paith v. County of Washington

July 25, 2008

ASHLEY PAITH AND RON PATTERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF WASHINGTON; WASHINGTON COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; WARDEN JOSEPH PELZER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS WARDEN OF THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; AND CAPTAIN KING, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS AN OFFICER WITH THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barry Fischer United States District Judge

Judge Nora Barry Fischer

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs Ashley Paith and Ron Patterson filed this civil action against Defendants County of Washington ("County"), Washington County Correctional Facility ("Correctional Facility"), Warden Joseph Pelzer, and Captain King. They allege cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as state causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery. This action stems from events occurring during Paith's November of 2003 and December of 2005 through March of 2006 incarcerations, and Patterson's incarceration during April of 2003 through March of 2004. Presently before the court is the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [29] ("Defendants' motion") and Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [43] ("Plaintiffs' motion").

PREFACE

As a threshold matter, the Court notes that both parties attached affidavits, transcripts of depositions, and other evidentiary sources to their briefs containing "facts" not specified in their respective concise statement of facts. However, Local Rule 56.1 exists to streamline the summary judgment procedure by requiring (1) the moving party to set forth "the facts essential for the court to decide the motion for summary judgment, which the moving party contends are undisputed and material, including any facts which for purposes of the summary judgment motion are only assumed to be true," W.D. Pa. L.R. 56.1(B)(1), and, (2) for the opposing party, to specifically admit or deny the same, set forth a basis for any denial, and to set forth "any other material facts that are allegedly at issue, and/or that the opposing party asserts are necessary for the court to determine the motion for summary judgment," W.D. Pa. L.R. 56.1(C)(1). Accordingly, to the extent the parties include alleged "facts" not in their respective concise statements of fact but in other sources attached to their briefs, the Court finds that the parties' failure to place said facts before the Court as required by the Local Rules (i.e., in a concise statement of fact) indicates either (1) said fact(s) is not "essential" for the Court's decision of the motion (from the perspective of the moving party) and/or (2) said fact(s) is not "necessary" for the Court's determination of the motion (from the perspective of the opposing party). The Court now turns to the facts.

FACTS*fn1

Following a violent domestic dispute, Ashley Paith was arrested and then incarcerated in the Washington County Correctional Facility on November 8, 2003.*fn2 (Docket No. 30 at ¶2; Docket No. 38 at ¶2). While confined, Paith assaulted corrections officers and urinated in her cell, for which she was disciplined. (Docket No. 30 at ¶2; Docket No. 38 at ¶2). She was released four days later on November 11, 2003. (Docket No. 30 at ¶2; Docket No. 38 at ¶2). Paith's initial incarceration overlapped with her father and co-Plaintiff Ron Patterson's ongoing sentence in the Washington County jail, which began on or about April 5, 2003. (Docket No. 30 at ¶4; Docket No. 38 at ¶4). On or about November 18, 2003, after Plaintiff Paith was released, Plaintiff Patterson was transferred from Washington County Correctional Facility to the Allegheny County Jail, but later transferred back to the Washington County Correctional Facility approximately one week prior to his release date, on or about March 22, 2004. (Docket No. 30 at ¶¶4-5; Docket No. 38 at ¶¶4-5).

More than two years later, on Christmas Day, 2005, the Pennsylvania State Police arrested Paith on a parole violation detainer and she was again incarcerated in the Washington County Correctional Facility. (Docket No. 30 at ¶3; Docket No. 38 at ¶3). This incarceration lasted six months, from approximately December 25, 2005, to March 24, 2006. (Docket No. 30 at ¶3; Docket No. 38 at ¶3). During her second incarceration, Paith received medical attention on at least eight occasions, including routine psychiatric evaluations and prescription medication.*fn3 (Docket No. 30 at ¶3; Docket No. 38 at ¶3).*fn4

Following an argument with a nurse, Paith was disciplined and ordered to a disciplinary cell, known as the "green room."*fn5 (Docket No. 38 at II, ¶2). The green room is a padded disciplinary cell equipped only with a grated drainage pipe in the middle of the floor. (Docket No. 38 at II, ¶ 2). It lacks a bed as well as "commode facilities" but rather, according to Plaintiffs, "contains an open pipe approximately eight (8) inches in diameter which is to be utilized for urination and/or defecation." (Docket No. 38 at II, ¶2). Further, a large window displays the prisoner in the "green room" to guards located at the adjacent processing desk. (Docket No. 38 at ¶ 2). Plaintiff Paith asserts that she visited the green room on a number of separate occasions for a variety of reasons, including an argument with a nurse regarding her medication and an instance where she "became emotionally upset and verbally expressed [her] frustration and anger, and slammed the door."*fn6 (Docket No. 38 at II, ¶¶2 & 5).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On January 3, 2006, Plaintiffs Paith and Patterson initiated this action by filing a Praecipe for Writ of Summons in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County. On May 17, 2006, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint alleging (1) "civil rights violations" stemming from an alleged deprivation of necessary and adequate medical care and confinement conditions appropriate to Paith's medical condition under the Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution;*fn7 (2) assault and battery against Defendant Captain King; (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants; and (4) a "DeShaney action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983" against all Defendants. On June 16, 2006, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, Defendants removed Plaintiffs' Complaint to this Court.*fn8 On September 10, 2007, Defendants filed their Answer and Affirmative Defenses. (Docket No. 28).

As to Defendants' motion, on October 2, 2007, Defendants filed their pending motion for summary judgment requesting judgment on all claims. On December 14, 2007, after two extensions of time to respond, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs' Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 37). On April 14, 2008, Defendants filed a Supplemental Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 62). On April 30, 2008, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Supplemental Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 66). On May 9, 2008, after the Court granted them leave to do so, Defendants filed their Reply Brief in Response to Plaintiff's to Defendants' Supplemental Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 69).

As to Plaintiffs' motion, on January 3, 2008, Plaintiffs filed their pending cross-motion for summary judgment requesting judgment "regarding [Plaintiff] Paith's Eighth Amendment claim concerning her green room confinement." (Docket No. 43 at 2). On February 15, 2008, after two extensions of time to respond, Defendants' filed their Reply to Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment within which Defendants also included a Motion to Strike Affidavits of Richard Brezenski, Ron Patterson and Alex Martos (Docket No. 53).*fn9 On March 7, 2008, Plaintiffs filed their Reply Brief to Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 56).

Relevant to both pending motions, on March 7, 2008, Defendants filed a Request for Oral Argument on Motions for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 57), which the Court granted on the same day. On April 22, 2008, the Court held a motion hearing, at which it heard oral argument and received evidence by way of video from December 25, 2006 and December 26, 2006. Thereafter on April 29, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Withdraw Specific Claims with Prejudice, (Docket No. 64), which the Court granted the next day, dismissing the following claims: (1) Plaintiff's "civil rights violations" claims against Defendant Correctional Facility as well as Warden Pelzer and Captain King in their official capacities; (2) Plaintiffs' claims under the Fifth and Ninth Amendments to the United States Constitution; (3) Plaintiffs' state law claims against Defendants Warden Pelzer and Captain King in their official capacities, County, and Correctional Facility; and (4) Plaintiffs' claims alleging incidents that occurred in 2003 as time barred.*fn10 (Docket No. 65). However, as a result of Plaintiffs' withdrawal of certain claims, on June 3, 20008, the Court held a telephonic status conference in order to clarify the remaining claims. The Court found that the following claims remain: (1) Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims against Washington County as well as Warden Joseph Pelzer and Captain King in their individual capacities; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress against Warden Joseph Pelzer and Captain King in their individual capacities; and (3) a DeShaney action against Washington County as well as Warden Joseph Pelzer and Captain King in their individual capacities. (See Docket No. 70). In addition, the Court allowed the parties to file additional briefs as to policies and procedures related to the "green room." ...


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