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Luciano v. Varano

March 25, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo


On July 15, 2009, Plaintiff Bryan Aponte Luciano ("Luciano"), an inmate confined at SCI-Houtzdale, filed the captioned civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) All of Luciano's claims stem from a period of his incarceration spent at SCI-Coal Township. Luciano originally named sixty-six Defendants in his complaint, and alleged that these Defendants harassed, intimidated, threatened and assaulted him, as well as, denied him necessities, access to court, and tampered with his mail.

The court screened the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, found the complaint insufficient, and ordered Luciano to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 9.) On September 8, 2009, Luciano filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 11.) In his amended complaint, Luciano names the following Defendants: Kandis Dascani, Robert McMillan, David Varano, Cindy Watson, L.S. Kerns-Barr, Therese Jellen, James Lindberg, Kathryn McCarty, Joseph Mushinski, Edward Baumbach, David McCoy, Jeffrey Fago, Jeffrey Madden, and Joseph Piazza.*fn1 Each of these Defendants is either a present or former employee of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and are collectively referred to herein as the "Corrections Defendants."

On November 18, 2009, the Corrections Defendants filed a motion to partially dismiss Luciano's amended complaint. Specifically, the Corrections Defendants assert that Luciano's claims against them in their official capacities should be dismissed because they are immune from suit pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. They also argue that Plaintiff's claims against them in their individual capacities, except those claims against Defendants Fago and Madden, should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss, but will permit Plaintiff a limited right to further amend his complaint.

I. Background

In his amended complaint, Luciano brings a plethora of allegations against Defendants. Each Defendant is sued in his or her official and individual capacities. Luciano makes the following allegations:

Luciano alleges that Defendant Joseph Piazza has "provided inadequate training, [unprofessional] supervision and [discipline] to deputies under his authority." (Amend. Compl., Doc. 11, ¶ 1.) Luciano alleges that he complained to Piazza about "the abuse, threats, and basic necessities that [were] happening against me." (Id.)

As to Defendant David Varano, Luciano alleges that "he had Good Knowledge of my complaints and the [hazardous] situation Plaintiff was in and did Nothing to stop the abuse." (Id. ¶ 2.) Luciano also asserts that Varano is responsible for "not letting me go to the Law Library," although he is not specific as to how or when Varano prevented his access. (Id.)

As to Defendant Kandi Dascani, Luciano alleges that Dascani was the grievance coordinator, and she "never... wanted to speak to me...[a]nd she was [discriminating] most of my [grievances] saying they were to[o] long, or you cannot includ[e] to[o] many Officer[s] and Staff in one grievance." (Id. ¶ 3.)

Luciano asserts that he spoke to Defendant J.T. Mushinski on many occasions about his situation, but that Mushinski never corrected the problem. (Id. ¶ 4.) He also asserts that on August 20, 2007, he was assaulted by Sergeant Burns*fn2 and that he reported the assault to Mushinski who did nothing. (Id.)

Luciano claims that he spoke to Defendant Edward Baumbach about the conditions in the Restricted Housing Unit, and about the fact that various corrections officers refused to feed him or provide him with showers. (Id. ¶ 5.) Luciano asserts that Baumbach did nothing in response. (Id.)

Against Defendant Kathryn McCarthy, Luciano asserts that she is the medical supervisor at SCI-Coal Township, and that the medical department failed "to give [him] proper Treatment or have [him] taken to a Hospital," and that they have ignored his medical condition since 2007. (Id. ¶ 6.)

Luciano asserts that Defendant James Lindberg is the librarian at SCI-Coal Township, and that he "[refused] to make any Photocopies for Plaintiff," and that is "why the Superior Court Closed My Case." (Id. ¶ 7.)

Luciano asserts that Defendant Therese Jellen is the mail room supervisor and that during the time that he was in the RHU "[his] Newspaper's were not being delivered" by the mail room. (Id. ¶ 9.)

As to Defendant L.S. Kerns-Barr, Luciano asserts that she was the hearing examiner for institutional misconduct at SCI-Coal Township, and that she would not permit him to talk at misconduct hearings, would yell and curse at him, and told him that if he did not "[follow] her rules" he was going to have "much more problem[s] in here, you may not Wake up to see another day." (Id. ¶ 10.)

Luciano asserts that Defendant David McCoy told him that he would help fix the problems that Luciano was facing, but that a couple of days later he was assaulted by other corrections officers. (Id. ¶ 13.)

Luciano asserts that Defendant Cindy Watson is the Chief Grievance Coordinator for the Department of Corrections, and that she "is [responsible] for refusing lots of [Plaintiff's] Appeals that Plaintiff sent her even ...

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