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Daniels v. Kelchner

March 18, 2009

KEITH DANIELS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD KELCHNER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge Middle District of Pennsylvania

(Chief Judge Kane)

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Keith Daniels, an inmate formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill ("SCI-Camp Hill"), Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter proceeds on amended complaint wherein Plaintiff alleges that Defendants, past and present employees at SCI-Camp Hill, subjected him to excessive force, issued false misconducts against him, denied him due process with regard to the resulting misconduct hearings, and denied him adequate medical treatment. (Doc. No. 31.) He further alleges that Defendants deprived him of food, water, exercise, showers and legal/religious materials, as well as subjected him to unsanitary cell conditions. Defendants' motion for summary judgment filed on July 28, 2008, is ripe for disposition. (Doc. No. 100.) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

This action arises from events that occurred during a six (6) month period beginning on August 13, 2003, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI-Camp Hill. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges civil rights violations against Correctional Officers Bloor, Twigg, Alianiello, Alba, Cousins, Zimmerman and Webb, as well as Lieutenant Rosenberger and Hearing Examiner Andrade. He contends that on August 12, 2003, he was transferred to SCI-Camp Hill from the Philadelphia County Prison System to begin a state prison term of 10 to 20 years. As a new commitment, he was placed in a quarantine unit to begin the classification process and obtain clearance to be transferred to general population. The following morning, Plaintiff and his cellmate were called out for blood work. When Plaintiff arrived at the guard station, the Sergeant was upset with him for not exiting his cell at the same time as his cellmate and called Plaintiff a "f***ing dick-head nigga." (Doc. No. 31, Amended Compl. at 5.) Plaintiff told the Sergeant he did not need to speak to him in that way. As Plaintiff proceeded up the stairs Defendant Twigg called Plaintiff a "tuff guy." (Id.)

Twigg thereafter instructed Plaintiff to go back to his cell, and then proceeded down the steps toward Plaintiff walking so close that he stepped on the back of Plaintiff's ankle. Twigg then intentionally lunged his chest into Plaintiff's back, causing Plaintiff to stumble forward. Plaintiff claims that Twigg was attempting to provoke a physical confrontation. As Plaintiff proceeded through the doorway on his way back to his cell, he claims that Defendant Bloor jumped on him from behind, and placed him in a tight chokehold. (Id. at 6.)

Twigg arrived within seconds and joined in the assault by grabbing Plaintiff while Bloor choked him. Both Defendants picked Plaintiff up off his feet and slammed his face into the floor. They thereafter pinned Plaintiff down with their weight, and twisted his arms behind his back, tightly handcuffing him. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff states that his pleas to Defendants to stop were ignored.

While still pinned to the floor, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Alba, Cousins, Alianiello and Zimmerman arrived. They failed to intervene to stop the assault. After Bloor punched Plaintiff in the face, said Defendants joined in by repeatedly punching and kicking Plaintiff's "face, head, back, arms, buttocks, testicles, and stomach." (Id. at 8.) Thereafter, Defendant Cousins pulled Plaintiff up by his shirt, and dragged him down the corridor. Plaintiff states that he had blood dripping from his mouth, nose, wrist and knees. (Id. at 9.)

Plaintiff was then taken to see a nurse, who wiped the blood from him and took two pictures. Before he could explain that he had just been assaulted, Defendants Bloor, Twigg, Alba, Cousins and Alianiello took him to the solitary confinement unit ("SCU"). Once there, Plaintiff states he was met by Defendants Webb and Rosenberger who conducted a strip/body cavity search. Plaintiff requested to see a doctor due to the pain from his injuries, but was instructed not to speak or move. After being thrown onto the floor of a cell, Plaintiff complains about the manner in which his handcuffs were removed through the pie-hole in the cell door.

Plaintiff further complains about the filthy condition of the SCU cell. He states that urine and feces were backed up in the toilet and smeared on the walls. He also maintains that the cell did not contain hot water, a mattress, bedding or toilet paper. He complains that he was not provided with clean clothing for two weeks and found inedible objects in his food. He was also denied showers and yard exercise during the entire six month period.

On or about August 27, 2003, Plaintiff contends that while he was sleeping, a SCU guard delivered three (3) misconduct reports written against him by Defendants Bloor, Twigg, Alba, Cousins and Alianiello which stemmed from the assault incident. Also delivered were the hearing examiner dispositions with respect to each of the misconducts. (Id. at 11; Exs. B-D1.) Plaintiff had no knowledge of any misconduct reports being written against him until this time. He claims that the reports did not contain the date, time and signature of the person serving the notice. It is his contention that the misconduct reports were fabricated and processed so that Plaintiff could not file appeals. According to Plaintiff, hearings on the misconducts were held by Defendant Amdrade in absentia, and he was found guilty with respect to all three reports.*fn1 (Id. at 12.)

Plaintiff claims that for the entire six (6) month period he was in the SCU, his requests to see a doctor about his injuries from the assault were denied by Defendants and the SCU guards. He states that he now walks with a limp and is unable to play sports, run or exercise. Further, he suffers from headaches as well as back, leg and neck pain. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff seeks injunctive, declaratory and compensatory relief.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment will be granted if the record establishes that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ P. 56(c); Saldana v.Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). In considering a motion for summary judgment, inferences from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most ...


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