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King v. Beard

July 26, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Paradise Baxter United States Magistrate Judge

District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin

Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter



It is respectfully recommended that the Defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 31], as supplemented [ECF No. 42], be granted in part and denied in part. It is further recommended that the Clerk of Courts be directed to terminate Defendant Jeffrey A. Beard from this action.

A Case Management Order will be issued separately.


A. Relevant History

Plaintiff Derrick L. King is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution Forest ("SCI-Forest"), located in Marienville, Pennsylvania. In July 2009, he submitted for filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [ECF No. 1, 7.] The Court ordered him to file an amended complaint explaining the factual basis upon which he was bringing his claims because the original complaint did not explain what each defendant did. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in which he complains about two incidents, one on January 18, 2009, and the other on January 26, 2009 [ECF No. 8], and which he supplemented on April 5, 2010 [ECF No. 41]. As Defendants to this action, Plaintiff has named: Jeffery A. Beard, Secretary of the Department of Corrections; Michael C. Barone, Superintendent of SCI-Forest; Captain Repko; Officer Coleman; Officer Henretty; Officer Benson; R.N. Bell; Lt. Samson; Lt. Taylor; Officer Snyder; Sergeant Murin; Officer Gliar; Officer Wentez; Sergeant McKnight; Lt. Smith; Nurse Williams; and Nurse Douglas.

Plaintiff claims that on January 18, 2009, he was housed in a psychiatric observation cell and pursuant to Department of Corrections' policy was allowed only a bagged meal. Defendant Coleman served him a bagged meal, but it was wet and so Plaintiff asked for another one. Defendant Coleman refused to replace the meal, took back the meal he had served to Plaintiff, and verbally harassed Plaintiff in the process. [ECF No. 8, ¶¶ 1-9. See also ECF No. 41 ¶¶ 1-3.] Later that same day, during the second shift, Defendant Henretty served Plaintiff another wet bagged meal. When Plaintiff asked why he was given a wet meal, Henretty replied that Plaintiff knew why "f*** boy." [Id., ¶ 11. ECF No. 41, ¶ 7.] Defendants Henretty, Benson, Bell, Samson, and Williams then laughed at Plaintiff and verbally taunted him over the intercom while making racial slurs. [Id., ¶¶ 10-13; ECF No. 41, ¶ 9.]

Next, Defendants Taylor and Repko approached Plaintiff's cell with seven guards dressed in riot gear, cuffed Plaintiff and put him in the restraint chair. [Id., ¶¶ 14-16. ECF No. 41 at 4.] Defendant Taylor told Plaintiff that he was going to be placed into the restraint chair because he had broken the sprinkler head and threw urine and feces on officers. [ECF No. 41 at 4.] Plaintiff denied Defendant Taylor's accusations, to no avail. [Id.] He alleges that Defendant Williams directed Defendants Gliar and Murin to pull the restraint straps as tight as possible, and as a result he had difficulty breathing and seeing and he also urinated and defecated on himself. Plaintiff claims that the Defendants acted with the sole purpose of inflicting pain upon him and that they ignored his pleas for relief. [Id., ¶¶ 17-18; ECF No. 41 at 4.] He "cried out in pain for help until [he] completely passed out inside [the] cell[.]" [ECF No. 41 at 4.] Plaintiff alleges that after he spent four hours in the restraint chair, Defendant Murin came into his cell and held a razor to his neck and told him not to move. [ECF No. 8, ¶¶ 19-23.] Then, after two more hours, Plaintiff was removed from the chair and left in a cell that was flooded and contained no mattress. [Id., ¶¶ 23-24.]

Plaintiff further alleges that on January 26, 2009, Defendant Murin approached his cell and stated: "we'll see how tough you are in the chair a**hole." [Id., ¶ 27.] Later that day,

Defendant Taylor arrived with officers dressed in riot gear and they placed Plaintiff into the restraint chair for no reason whatsoever. Plaintiff claims that he was not permitted to use the restroom prior to being placed in the chair; that the straps once again were tightened so as to inflict pain; that his pleas for help were ignored; that he fainted as a result of the over-restraint; that the nurse on the scene, Defendant Williams, did not check his vital signs; that he was not permitted exercise until four hours later; and, that he was denied water while in the chair. [Id., ¶¶ 28-41.]

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Coleman retaliated against him for making complaints about his treatment by issuing Misconduct No. A639087. [ECF No. 41, ¶¶ 4-6.] He further alleges that Defendant Henretty retaliated against him by issuing two more misconducts as "punishment for trying to receive my rights to my daily nourishments without any mutilating and destructions of my food[.]" [ECF No. 41, ¶¶ 7-10, 19.]

Defendants waived service of the amended complaint and in response filed the pending motion to dismiss. [ECF No. 31]. Plaintiff was ordered to respond to Defendants' motion or file an amended complaint. [ECF No. 33.] On April 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed what he has entitled an "Amended Complaint," which is lodged on the Court's docket as ECF No. 41. In that filing, he supplements the claims he made regarding being placed in the restraint chair on January 18, 2009, and being deprived of adequate food. He also appears to be raising a new claim that he was unlawfully retaliated against for complaining about his conditions of confinement. Plaintiff does not reference the incident that occurred on January 26, 2009. In response to the document filed at ECF No. 41, Defendants filed a supplemental motion to dismiss. [ECF No. 42].

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contemplate that an amended complaint supercedes an earlier-filed complaint, in this case it appears that Plaintiff intended the document filed at ECF No. 41 to supplement the claims he makes in the amended complaint filed at ECF No. 8, and also to add an additional retaliation claim. Under Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972) (discussed infra) and its progeny, the Court shall read the documents filed at ECF No. 8 and ECF No. 41 liberally because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and shall read those documents together as setting forth Plaintiff's claims. Accordingly, the Court shall direct the Clerk to file the document at ECF No. 41 as a supplement to the amended complaint at ECF No. 8. Construing the allegations Plaintiff makes in those two documents together, it appears that he is making the following claims:

Claim 1 Defendants subjected him to excessive force and were deliberately indifferent to his well-being by placing him in the restraint chair on January 18 and 26, 2009, and by exposing him to harsh and unwarranted conditions while he was restrained in the chair;

Claim 2 Defendants subjected him to taunting, racial slurs, and verbal harassment; Claim 3 Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his health care (i.e. "nourishment") needs when they denied him two adequate meals on January 18, 2009, and denied him water and one meal on January 26, 2009; and, Claim 4 When he complained about his conditions of ...

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