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Lindsey v. Shaffer

September 10, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joy Flowers Conti United States District Judge

Judge Joy Flowers Conti

Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan


Plaintiff Jerry Samuel Lindsey ("plaintiff"), an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Graterford"), brings this suit pro se under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against three current or former employees of the Butler County Prison ("BCP"): Phil Shaffer ("Shaffer"), Richard Gigliotti ("Gigliotti"), and Art Marx ("Marx" and together with Shaffer and Gigliotti, "defendants"). On August 25, 2008, plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See Doc. No. 2. Plaintiff alleges that during his detention at BCP, defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Defendants respond that plaintiff's complaint lacks sufficient factual allegations about defendants' personal involvement in any alleged wrongdoing with respect to plaintiff to survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

For the reasons stated below, this court will grant defendants' motion without prejudice with respect to plaintiff's claims of denial of access to the courts and cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff will be granted thirty days in which to amend his complaint with respect to these claims. Failure to do so will result in their dismissal with prejudice. Additionally, this court will grant defendants' motion insofar as plaintiff alleges a violation of his right to a fair trial.


On July 28, 2008, plaintiff filed a complaint with this court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the complaint, plaintiff alleged that from July 24, 2007, to November 15, 2007, while he was housed in the "J-Block" of BCP, he was subjected to overcrowded conditions and forced to sleep on the floor for two weeks. Compl. (Doc. No. 3) at 2. Plaintiff complained about inadequate toilet facilities -- specifically, that twenty-three men had access to only one toilet and sink among them. Id. Plaintiff alleged that at night in order to be escorted to the toilet he would be forced to wait in excess of one hour for a guard to make his rounds. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that he filed an institutional grievance regarding the above-mentioned conditions.*fn2 Id. On an unidentified date following the filing of that grievance, plaintiff encountered defendants Gigliotti and Marx, and asked them if they had received it.*fn3 Defendants Gigliotti and Marx informed plaintiff that they would "get back to [him]." Id.

Plaintiff alleged in his original complaint that he was prevented from accessing a law library from July 24, 2007 to February 13, 2008. Id. Plaintiff related that, in order to do legal research at BCP, he was required to make written requests for specific law books. Id. Plaintiff stated that he was attempting to prepare for trial, and that he did not know which books he needed. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff attempted to obtain help from his counselor, and from the head counselor, defendant Shaffer. Id. Plaintiff avers that he was told by defendant Shaffer that there was no law library at BCP, and that plaintiff "had to try to find someone to help [him] with [his] legal problems." Id.

Defendants filed their motion to dismiss plaintiff's suit on January 22, 2009. See Def.s' Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 13). On February 20, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, correcting some minor misspellings of defendants's names in the original pleading. See Doc. No 16. On the same date, plaintiff filed a "Memorandum of Complaint," (Doc. No. 18), which was a response to the arguments made by defendants' in support of their motion to dismiss. In a text order dated February 23, 2009, plaintiff was granted leave to amend the complaint insofar as it corrected the spelling of defendants' names. Plaintiff, however, was cautioned that his "Memorandum of Complaint" would not be viewed as an amendment to his original complaint, because it raised completely new issues which must first be exhausted through the institutional grievance process.

On April 1, 2009, plaintiff filed a "Motion for Leave to File An Amended" [sic] (Doc. No. 19), which this court considers to be an amendment to plaintiff's original complaint. This motion, which was unopposed by defendants, was granted on April 24, 2009.

In the amendment to his complaint, plaintiff restated his allegations that BCP was over crowded, that he was forced to sleep on the floor for two weeks, that the toilet facilities in his cellblock were inadequate, and that he did not have access to adequate legal research materials. Doc. No. 19 at 1-2. Plaintiff also categorized his claims under three legal theories. First, plaintiff claimed entitlement to relief under the First Amendment right to "[p]etition the [g]overnment for [a] redress of grievances."*fn4 Id. at 1. Second, plaintiff claimed entitlement to relief under the Eighth Amendment with respect to overcrowding at BCP, being forced to sleep on the floor, and his cellblock's inadequate toilet facilities. Id. Third, plaintiff alleged that his inadequate access to legal research materials at BCP was a violation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at 1-2.


When adjudicating a 12(b)(6) motion, this court must dismiss a complaint that does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "[H]eightened fact pleading of specifics," however, is not required. Id. at 570. There must be "factual allegations . . . enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555. The Court has made it clear that the requirement that pleadings must be facially ...

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