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Sanders v. Beard

July 20, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge




Presently before the Courtis the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of Magistrate Judge Smyser (ECF No. 140), and Plaintiffs' objections to the R&R. The R&R recommends dispositions for four pending motions: (1) Plaintiffs Alphonso Sanders ("Sanders"), Lamont Bullock ("Bullock"), Steve Stewart's ("Stewart") Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 72);*fn1 (2) Plaintiffs Mikal Roberts ("Roberts"), Bennie Tabb, III, ("Tabb"), and Yul Hayward's ("Hayward") Motion for Reconsideration Pursuant to Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) (ECF No. 86); (3) Defendants' Motion Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) to Dismiss Less Than All the Claims Set Forth in Plaintiffs' Complaint (ECF No. 102); and (4) Plaintiff Dwight Bowen's ("Bowen") Supplemental TRO Motion (ECF No. 120). For the reasons discussed below, the R&R will be adopted, and the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.This Court has jurisdiction over the present action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question).


I. Factual Background

The facts alleged in Plaintiffs' Complaint are as follows: Plaintiffs Sanders, Roberts, Tabb, Hayward, Bullock, Stewart, Bowen, John Diaz ("Diaz"), George Ortiz ("Ortiz"), Christopher Stevenson ("Stevenson"), and Andre Robinson ("Robinson") were inmates confined at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution Smithfield (hereinafter "SCI-Smithfield"). (Compl. ¶¶ 1-12, ECF No. 1.) As a result of the conduct discussed below, Plaintiffs have suffered a multitude of injuries. (Id. ¶ 32.)

Defendant Jeffrey Beard ("Beard") was the Secretary of Corrections. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Defendant Paul Smeal ("Smeal") was the Superintendent of SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶ 14.) Defendant F.R. Royer ("Royer") was the Deputy Superintendent of Facility Management at SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶ 15.) Defendants Art Varner ("A. Varner"), William Felton ("Felton"), and Tim Greenland ("Greenland") were Facility Maintenance managers at SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶¶ 16-17, 20.) Defendant James Fouse ("Fouse") was Safety manager at SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶ 18.) Defendants Bill Flick ("Flick") and Bill Novell ("Novell") were employed to perform maintenance repair at SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶ 21.) Defendant William Dreibelbis ("Dreibelbis") was the Health Care Administrator at SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶ 23.) Defendant Dorina Varner ("D. Varner") was the Chief Grievance Coordinator at SCI-Smithfield. (Id. ¶ 24.)*fn2 Each Defendant is responsible for providing Plaintiffs with a safe prison environment. (Id. ¶ 103.)

A. Conditions of Confinement

For more than fifteen (15) years, SCI-Smithfield has had problems with water damage and plumbing leakages. (Compl. ¶ 33.) Defendants have required Plaintiffs to live and work in buildings "that are sinking and 'Mold Infested' due from years of flooding and water damage." (Id. ¶ 29.) Defendants concealed these problems from inspectors by having inmates clean with Tylex, bleach, and other chemicals before they arrived. (Id. ¶ 35.) Otherwise, inmate housing units are not properly cleaned. (Id. ¶ 52.) Defendants were told by a masonry contractor that SCI-Smithfield "was a death trap" and that "the buildings could collapse at anytime." (Id. ¶¶ 37-38.) Additionally, SCI-Smithfield has an inadequate ventilation system that causes "Sick Building Syndrome," causes moisture to develop in the inmates' cells, and has other biological and environmental contaminants such as: second-hand tobacco smoke, viral and bacteria infections, stale air, odorous smells, unusual amounts of dust, soot, dirt, and felt-like lint. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 39.) The cell blocks have no opening windows, and as a result fresh air is never brought into the cells. (Id. ¶ 40.)

B. Medical Care

Defendants have also denied Plaintiffs proper medical care and arbitrarily deny their grievance complaints to deprive them of access to the courts. (Compl. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff Bullock has been to sick call numerous times to get treatment for mold exposure and related symptoms. (Id. ¶ 97.) It took nearly three (3) years for Bullock to receive the correct treatment. (Id. ¶ 97.)

C. Retaliation

As a result of Plaintiff Bullock speaking to the American Correctional Association Standards and Accreditation Department, he was retaliated against by being moved from his assigned cell to a mold infested cell. (Compl. ¶¶ 63-67.) When Bullock requested to be moved to another cell, Defendant Smeal denied these requests for no reason. (Id. ¶ 71.) Defendant A. Varner inspected the cell, and told Bullock that he would have maintenance take care of the problem. (Id. ¶ 73.) Ultimately, the damaged plumbing was repaired (Id. ¶ 75) and the mold was sprayed (Id. ¶¶ 76-77). After the cell was repaired, Bullock was moved to another cell which had the same inhumane conditions. (Id. ¶ 83.) Bullock brought the conditions of this new cell to Defendants Smeal's attention. (Id. ¶ 85.) Minimal repairs were made forty-nine (49) days later. (Id. ¶ 92.)

II. Procedural Background

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on July 16, 2009. (ECF No. 1.) Along with the Complaint, many of the Plaintiffs filed separate motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). (ECF Nos. 2-11.) These IFP applications failed to use the required forms for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and on August 3, 2009, an administrative order directed the Plaintiff to file proper forms within thirty (30) days. (ECF No. 14.) On September 25, Magistrate Judge Smyser issue a R&R recommending that the claims of Plaintiffs Hayward, Roberts, Ortiz, Stevenson, and Robinson be dismissed for failure to file the required IFP forms, and the original IFP motions were denied as moot. (ECF Nos. 51-52.) This Court adopted the R&R on October 20, 2009, and dismissed the claims of Plaintiffs Hayward, Roberts, Ortiz, Stevenson, and Robinson for failure to file proper IFP forms or otherwise pay the requisite filing fee. (ECF No. 62.)

On November 20, 2009, Plaintiffs Sanders, Bullock, and Stewart filed a motion for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order ("TRO"). (ECF No. 72.) A hearing was held by Magistrate Judge Smyser on this motion on January 25, 2010. (ECF No. 112.) Plaintiffs Hayward, Roberts, and Tabb filed a motion to reconsider this Court's order (ECF No. 51) dismissing them from this action on December 21, 2009. (ECF No. 86.) On January 13, 2010, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss a portion of Plaintiffs' claims. (ECF No. 102.) Plaintiff Bowen filed a separate motion for a TRO on February 16, 2010. (ECF No. 120.) Magistrate Judge Smyser filed the present ...

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