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Ball v. Oden

February 16, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane


Plaintiff Dawn Marie Ball ("Ball") is an inmate confined at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy (SCI-Muncy), Pennsylvania. Pending is one of four (4) civil rights actions Ball filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 5, 2009. Named as Defendants are Jeffrey Beard, Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), and thirty-three (33) SCI-Muncy employees.*fn1 In the complaint, Ball sets forth numerous instances where Defendants allegedly interfered with, confiscated and/or destroyed her mail and property. The allegations span the time period from April of 2007, through the filing of the complaint. Before the Court for consideration are Plaintiff's motion for counsel (Doc. No. 4), motion for injunctive relief (Doc. No. 5), and motion for order to conduct discovery (Doc. No. 26). Also pending is Defendants' motion to stay discovery (Doc. No. 20), and motion to dismiss the complaint (Doc. No. 17).*fn2

I. Background

In the complaint Ball alleges that in April of 2007, Defendants Oden and Reid packed up the property in her cell. It was not until May 26, 2007, when Ball claims she discovered property was missing after receiving the property sheet. The missing property included hand and finger braces, paper folders, mail, brushes, pens, mirrors, combs and toothbrushes. (Doc. No. 1, Compl. at 2.)*fn3 Ball further alleges that Defendant Pinard destroyed personal hygiene items such as lotion, moisture cream, soap, deodorant, shampoo and toothpaste, a pair of glasses, shower shoes, a mirror and unopened mail from 9/17/07 through 9/19/07. (Id.) Defendant Ragar is alleged to have deprived her of mail during the same time period, while Defendant Redding withheld her mail from August of 2007 through October of 2007.

Ball claims that Defendant Campbell, who is responsible for distributing the incoming mail, failed to "secure the mail" from January 23, 2008 through February 19, 2008. On March 11, 2008, Defendant Keen took a manilla envelope that Ball needed to mail. She claims the envelope was never mailed, and she never received a cash slip or the return of the envelope. (Id.) On April 7, 2008, and during August of 2008, Defendant Smith told Ball he would return her property, but never did.

According to Ball, Defendant Fould interfered with her mail on August 3, 2008. There are further allegations of mail interference on January 23, 2008, February 19, 2008, September 17-19, 2008, and October 23, 2008 against Defendants Griner and Campbell. Defendants Robernolt and Sisley are alleged to have confiscated and destroyed Ball's mail in March of 2008, as well as June through August of 2008. Defendant Gridley engaged in this same activity from January of 2009 through March of 2009. (Id. at 2.) On an unspecified date, Ball claims Defendant Curham confiscated and destroyed Ball's legal documents.

In September of 2008, Ball claims Defendant Edwards failed to process sixteen (16) copies of grievances that she had given him, and failed to return them to her. She claims these were her only copies, but they were never processed. Edwards also failed to give Ball a letter her attorney faxed to her in December of 2008, and puzzles her mother sent to her in January of 2009.

Ball contends that Defendants Wolford and Gair violated her rights on October 26, 2008, when they searched her cell in her absence. She claims they confiscated magazines, drawings and papers. Defendants Hummel and Craver also went through her property in her absence and confiscated/destroyed many of her personal items, as well as some "legal stuff." (Id.)

Defendants Eiswerth, Blessing, Smith and Miller are claimed to have gone through and thrown out personal property belonging to Ball in June of 2008, and on August 7, 2008 and October 18, 2008. Blessing also withheld fifty-six (56) pieces of Ball's mail for over one (1) month on January 13, 2009. On an unspecified date, Defendant Winder threw out articles of Ball's old clothing after she had gotten new clothing. Ball contends that the old clothes should have been placed with her property.*fn4

Beginning on February 9, 2009, and continuing into March of 2009, Ball claims Defendants Peterson and Koleno took eighty-three (83) pieces of her incoming and outgoing mail. Defendant Peterson is also claimed to have taken outgoing mail belonging to Ball that was to be sent out on March 11, 2008, August 3, 2008 and various dates in April of 2009. Ball's roommate informed her that Defendants were reading and copying her mail. (Id. at 4.) Ball states that Defendants have scared her roommate because they saw Ball's address appearing on her roommate's mail.

Ball also sets forth claims against Defendant Kopshina, the librarian at SCI-Muncy. According to Ball, Kopshina failed to copy items that Ball sent on February 16, 2009, and March 1 and 20, 2009. She is also alleged to have denied Ball's request for legal forms on an unspecified date. Ball further complains that in February of 2009, Kopshina failed to copy or return five (5) motions that Ball intended to file in Civil Action No. 08-700, a case presently pending in this Court. Because of Kopshina's actions Ball states she was unable to file the motions.

In April of 2009, Ball claims Defendant Gridley stole personal property from one (1) of the five (5) bags previously taken. Defendants Aikey and Eckroth refused to give Ball copies of the property sheets from her boxes. On April 23 and 24, 2009, Defendant Winder refused to give Ball unspecified "supplies." (Id. at 6.) Defendant Baker is alleged to have refused to give Ball her mail on April 24, 2009, and Defendant Barto refused to do anything about Baker's actions. On April 26, 2009, Defendant Peterson held two (2) pieces of Ball's outgoing mail for two (2) days before returning them to her. Ball claims that this violates policy which requires that any unprocessed mail must be returned to her within twenty-four (24) hours. She also complains about three (3) pieces of outgoing personal mail never sent out to her mother and her friend.

Ball challenges Defendant Wright's action in informing her on May 1, 2009, that she is only permitted to put out labeled envelopes. This restriction is pursuant to the orders of Defendants Koleno and Lamas because Ball "circumvented" the mail rules. Marirosa Lamas, Superintendent at SCI-Muncy, is named as a Defendant because Lamas "allows the other Defendants to get away with these violations." (Id. at 8.) Defendant Beard is liable because, as the Secretary of the DOC, he is the policymaker. As relief for all of the foregoing violations, Ball seeks an order directing Defendants to return/replace all missing and destroyed property as well as monetary damages.

II. Discussion

A. Motion for ...

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