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Anthony Bowen v. Superintendent Louis S. Folino

December 2, 2011

ANTHONY BOWEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT LOUIS S. FOLINO, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly

OPINION AND ORDER

Anthony Bowen ("Bowen") is currently serving a life sentence in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for first degree murder.*fn1 He has brought this civil rights action against Louis S. Folino, the Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Greene ("SCI-Greene"), after he was allegedly overcome by hot steam while in the shower, fainted, and injured himself as a result of the fall. Bowen contends that because Defendant Folino was aware of "the extream [sic] deadly conditions of the showers," he has violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. Having found that Bowen's allegations set forth in the original Complaint, at most, stated a claim for negligence, which does not give rise to an Eighth Amendment violation, and that he nevertheless failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim against Folino, Bowen was given an opportunity to amend the Complaint. Because Bowen has still failed to plead any facts in the Amended Complaint to state an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Folino, the Amended Complaint is properly dismissed.

A. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Bowen submitted the original Complaint in this matter on October 27, 2009, naming Louis Folino ("Folino"), the Superintendent of SCI-Greene, as the sole defendant. The factual allegations contained in Bowen's original Complaint read in their entirety as follows:

1) I'm filing this civil action against "Superintendent Louis S. Folino," Department of Corrections. On 7-27-09, I was taking a shower on G-D-unit at SCI Green [sic] Prison. During the shower[,] the water became extreamly [sic] hot [and] steamy, I couldn't breath [and] blacked out. From me passing out[,] I suffered from neck and back problems, witch [sic] now I have to walk with a walker [and] I[‟]m in constant pain.

2) I will prove in court the D.O.C. staff acted in deliberate indifference, by putting me in a "dangerous situation." I intend to prove this by calling witnesses [and] showing that other inmates put in grievances[,] complaining that they couldn't breath [sic] in this shower, befor[e] my accident and staff knowing this shower [was] a "hazzard" [sic] not only to myself by [sic] all inmates.

I'm seeking $5 million dollas [sic] for monatary [sic], punitive, physical, emotional [and] psychological damages.

3) I want this case tryed [sic] in Fedral [sic] court becaus [sic] my civil rights was [sic] violated by knowingly putting my life in danger. ECF No. 3 at 1.

Defendant Folino filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on July 2, 2010, to which Bowen responded on July 27, 2010. ECF Nos. 13, 18. The Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order on March 7, 2011, finding that "Plaintiff cannot, on the facts alleged, demonstrate that Superintendent Folino acted intentionally or with deliberate indifference as is necessary for an Eighth Amendment claim." ECF No. 22 at 3-4. Noting that Bowen had argued in his responsive brief that Folino should be held liable because he "knew of the extream [sic] heat in the shower [and] that there was a safety issue because a number of inmates filed grievances complaining about the shower and heat," ECF No. 18, the Court found that, even if it permitted Bowen to amend his complaint to include this new allegation, it would still be insufficient under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). ECF No. 22 at 4-5. Specifically, the Court found that: mere knowledge by Folino of a potentially dangerous condition without any allegations as to the time frame of past occurrences and when other complaints were made and when Folino acquired such knowledge of a dangerous situation (so that he might take steps to rectify it) do not suffice to state an Eighth Amendment claim. See Graham v. Poole, 476 F. Supp. 2d 257, 260 (W.D.N.Y 2007) (in case concerning prisoner slip-and-fall claim, holding on a motion to dismiss that "[a]lthough plaintiff alleges that defendants were aware of the dangerous condition of the shower floor and failed to rectify it, that amounts to nothing more than negligence, and is not enough to establish an Eighth Amendment claim"); Davis v. Reilly, 324 F. Supp. 2d 361, 367 (E.D.N.Y.2004) (holding on a motion to dismiss that even if the individual defendant "had notice of wet floors outside the shower area prior to the plaintiff's slip and fall," the alleged "failure to provide shower mats [to remedy the situation] does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation within the meaning of Section 1983 and . . . thus is not actionable"). Accordingly, at most, the complaint alleges mere negligence and not an Eighth Amendment claim.

ECF No. 22 at 5. The Court nevertheless gave Bowen an opportunity to amend his complaint "in order to plead facts necessary to state an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Folino." ECF No. 22 at 7.

Bowen filed an Amended Complaint on March 11, 2011. ECF No. 23. Folino filed a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint on May 24, 2011, to which Bowen responded on August 16, 2011. ECF Nos. 27, 33. As such, the motion is now ripe for review.

B. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court held that a complaint is properly dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) where it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. In assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, the Court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable factual inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Odd v. Malone, 538 F.3d 202, 205 (3d Cir. 2008). The Court, however, need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Public Employees‟ Retirement System v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004), citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the Court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations; rather, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (finding that, under Twombly, "labels, ...


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