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Frederick Banks v. Julie Niclkin

February 1, 2011

FREDERICK BANKS,
PLAINTIFF :
v.
JULIE NICLKIN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Frederick Banks ("Banks"), a federal inmate formerly incarcerated at the Canaan Federal Prison Camp in Waymart, Pennsylvania, is proceeding with this civil rights action via an amended complaint. (Doc. 38.) Defendants are seeking an entry of summary judgment on the following remaining claims*fn1 : (1) a First Amendment claim of retaliation; (2) a Fourth Amendment claim of invasion of privacy; and (3) Eighth Amendment claims alleging that Banks' cell conditions were substandard, that he was denied adequate medical care, and that he was denied adequate recreation time. (Doc. 117). For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. Statement of Facts*fn2

Because this is the third motion for summary judgment addressed by the court, the recitation of facts will be limited to those relevant to the remaining claims.

A. First Amendment*fn3

Banks claims that defendant Lappin maintained a de facto policy of motivating defendants Lindsey, Nicklin, Renda, and Roberts, to punish inmates for filing grievances. (Doc. 38, at ¶¶ 9, 11.) Defendant Lappin is the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). (Id. at ¶ 33) He works in the BOP's Central Office in Washington, D.C. (Id. at ¶ 34.) Defendant Lindsey was the warden at USP-Canaan from May 16, 2004, through April 29, 2007, and was responsible for the administrative and organizational control of the institution. (Doc. 125, at ¶¶ 25-26.) Defendant Nicklin was employed as the Satellite Operations Administrator at USP

Canaan's satellite camp from August 22, 2004, through December 6, 2008. (Id. at ¶¶ 28-29.) Defendant Renda was employed as a case manager at USP-Canaan's satellite camp from September 4, 2004, through January 7, 2007. (Id. at 23-24.) Defendant Roberts is a correctional counselor who is responsible for institution security, inmate conduct and discipline, and control of contraband. (Id. at ¶¶, 31-32.) He is also required to provide oral and written reports concerning the behavior and progress of inmates. (Id. at ¶ 32.)

Banks stated in his deposition testimony that his efforts to file requests for administrative relief or any other grievances commenced after he left the Special Housing Unit on May 6, 2006. (Id. at ¶ 41.) Defendants Lindsey, Nicklin, Renda, and Roberts declared that they have no knowledge of a de facto retaliation policy established by Mr. Lappin. (Id. at ¶ 43.)

B. Fourth Amendment

Banks alleges that his expectation of privacy was infringed upon when defendants Nicklin, Renda, and Roberts read his legal and personal mail.

BOP policy, as codified at 28 C.F.R. 540.14, permits, and in some instances requires, BOP staff to open and inspect inmate general correspondence. (Doc. 125, at ¶ 46.) Defendant Lindsay was not involved in the daily screening of inmate mail. (Id. at ¶ 49.) Defendants Nicklin, Renda and Roberts state that they did not open, read or copy inmate outgoing or incoming mail or improperly handle Banks' "special mail." (Id. at ¶¶ 44, 47-48.)

Conversely, Banks testified at his deposition that defendants made the following admission:

Q. Okay. And did they each admit -- all four of these defendants admit that they were reading you legal mail?

A. I believe so. I believe I asked, and they acted like, you know, We can do it. It's like they were under the impression that they can do it.

Q. Well, but did they tell you that they were reading your legal mail?

A. Yea.

Q. All four of them.

A. That's the impression I got. (Doc. 124-5, at 9.)

C. Eighth Amendment

1. Inadequate Cell Conditions

Banks alleges that his cell was filled with "mites and must" from an air vent which was never cleaned. (Doc. 38, at ¶ 27.) He avers that the conditions caused him to cough and chronically choke on his vomit and gag. (Id.)

Defendant Bender was assigned to USP Canaan and worked the SHU morning shift as an SHU Range #1 Officer during the time period of April 17, 2006, through May 3, 2006. (Doc. 125, ¶ 51.) Defendant Hess was employed as a lieutenant at USP-Canaan from February 20, 2005, through January 6, 2008. (Id. at¶¶ 55-56.)

Maintenance at USP Canaan is handled by staff in the Mechanical Services Department. (Id. at ¶ 76.) According to the facilities manager/safety, during the first quarter of 2006, preventative maintenance of the institution's air ventilation system, which involved checking belts and changing filters as needed, was completed on a monthly basis. (Id. at ¶ 77.) After April 2006, preventative maintenance was performed on a quarterly basis. (Id. at ¶ 79.)

Cleaning supplies such as a broom and dust pan, glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner, and paper towels were offered to SHU inmates twice a week. (Doc. 125, at¶ 80). All were suitable to clean the air vent covers, and inmates in the SHU were able to reach the air vent covers located in their cells. (Id. at ¶ 81.)

Neither Bender nor Hess recall Banks raising a concern over the cleanliness of his cell or the air vents. (Id. at ¶ 82.) If such complaints were raised, they would have been forwarded to the Mechanical Services Department.

Upon his release from the SHU, he did not seek medical attention for any adverse conditions attributable to poor cell conditions. (Id. at ¶ 84.) On May 10, 2006, he was given a physical and no breathing or other physical problems were present. (Id. at ¶ 85.)

2. Deprivation of Recreation

Banks alleges that defendants Bender and Hess denied him recreation while housed in the SHU from April 17, 2006, to May 3, 2006. At the relevant time period, inmates in the SHU at USP Canaan were offered five hours of recreation per week. (Doc. 125, at ¶ 68.) Defendants Bender and Hess declare that they did not deny Banks recreation. (Id. at ¶ 70.) Upon his release from the SHU, he did not seek medical attention for any adverse conditions attributable to a lack of ...


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