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West v. Shultz

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 24, 2014

GERALD A. WEST, Plaintiff,
OFFICER SHULTZ, et al., Defendants


YVETTE KANE, District Judge.

Gerald A. West ("West"), an inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg ("USP-Lewisburg"), Pennsylvania, filed a complaint alleging claims under Bivens[1], 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). (Doc. No. 1.) Named as Defendants are the United States and individuals employed at USP-Lewisburg at the relevant time.[2] Presently pending is West's motion to supplement the complaint (Doc. No. 66) and Defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 16.) For the reasons that follow, the motion to supplement will be denied, and the motion to dismiss and for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Allegations in the complaint

On August 10, 2010, West's cellmate threatened to stab him if he did not move out. West notified Officer Grove of the threat, but Grove informed him that he would not be moved unless "he was f***ing or fighting."[3] (Doc. No. 1, Compl. at 3.) West was later sexually assaulted by his cellmate.

The following day West gave a cop-out slip to a physician's assistant with respect to the assault. Defendant Schultz came to West's cell and "tried to inform" his cellmate about the cop-out. After Schultz left, West was again assaulted by his cellmate. (Id. at 4.) West refused to return his food tray until a Lieutenant was notified. When Defendant Carrasquillo arrived, West was removed from the cell. Defendants Carrasquillo, Adami and a third officer threatened West to remain quiet about the incident or else he would remain in the Special Management Unit. (Id.)

Defendant Shade took West to a holding cell. He was later moved to Z Block by Defendant Adami. Adami told him if he did not find a cellmate he would be placed in restraints. West filed a complaint against Adami on March 23, 2011, with respect to this threat.

On March 28, 2011, West refused to be housed with a gang member who was moved to his cell. Shade falsified a misconduct report so that West would be put in hard restraints. (Id. at 5.) West was taken to a cell with another inmate in restraints, and thrown on top of him. The inmate then kicked him to the floor. West states he had to sleep on the floor for two (2) days, and was not permitted food or the use of a restroom. During this two (2) day period, West complained that the restraints were too tight and that he needed medical attention. (Id. at 5-6.) Several days later, West agreed to find a cellmate and his restraints were removed. Physician's Assistant Pigos (a non-defendant) ignored West's complaints about the lack of feeling in his hands.

On May 12, 2011, West went on a hunger strike. In retaliation for doing so, he was taken to D Block on May 15, 2011, and stripped of all his legal proper and provided with paper clothing. He does not allege that any of the named Defendants were involved in this incident. (Id. at 7.)

Defendants Edinger and Whittener told West that he was getting a cellmate. West refused to cell with the inmate because he threatened to assault anyone celled with him. Whittener gave West the choice of entering the cell or being placed in restraints. When the cell door was opened, the inmate kicked West in the ribs and chest. (Id. at 8.) West was thereafter placed in an empty cell where he was denied mail, hygiene items and clean clothes. Defendants Hudson, Bahre and Young told West his property would be returned when he ended his hunger strike. (Id.) Based on the foregoing, West seeks injunctive and compensatory relief.

II. Motion for Leave to Supplement Complaint

A. Standard of Review

It is within the sound discretion of the Court whether to grant or deny a motion for leave to amend a pleading or file a supplemental pleading. See Nottingham v. Peoria , 709 F.Supp. 542, 544 (M.D. Pa. 1988). Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d) addresses the matter of supplemental pleadings when a party seeks to set out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented. The factors to be considered in deciding whether to permit supplementation pursuant to Rule 15(d) are clearly set forth in Nottingham, and include the promotion of a justiciable disposition of the case, the delay or inconvenience the allowance of such a pleading will cause, and the prejudice to the rights of the parties to the action. (Id. at 544.)

B. Discussion

In West's proposed supplemental complaint, he seeks to add more that ten (10) new defendants and four (4) new claims. He claims that: (1) he was subjected to excessive force on August 14, 2012 by Officers Potter and White; (2) he was sprayed in the face with mace by Officers Moyer and Carrasquillo on April 8, 2013; (3) he was assaulted on May 14, 2013 by Officers Miller, George and Nogle; and (4) Unit Manager Knox and Assistant Manager Wilson denied him access to the courts during the months of July and October of 2013. (Doc. No. 66 at 2-11.)

Without unnecessary elaboration, West's request to add these new Defendants and claims will be denied. The claims are not related to the claims set forth in the original complaint. They involve new incidents against new individuals. To permit West to supplement his complaint for this purpose would be in violation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 20, prejudicial to Defendants, and result in the needless delay of the resolution of this matter. Further, there is no resulting prejudice to West in denying his request because he can pursue these claims in a new civil rights action.

III. Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Standard of Review

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the movant is entitled to summary judgment if it "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In pertinent part, parties moving for, or opposing, summary judgment must support their position by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). "The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Colwell v. Rite-Aid Corp. , 602 F.3d 495, 501 (3d Cir. 2010)(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)).

B. Statement of Facts

On March 29, 2011, Defendant Shade wrote an incident report charging West with Threatening Another with Bodily Harm" in violation of Code 203, and Refusing an Order, in violation of Code 307. (Doc. No. 17-1 at 28, Romano Decl., Att. D.)[4] The report describes the incident as follows:

On 3/29/11 at approximately 12:30 pm, while bringing the 3rd floor back from recreation inmate West... refused to go back in his assigned cell in 310. Inmate West stated, "if you put me back in that cell I am going to fuck up my cellie and then I will fuck up any officer that comes in my cell then."

(Id.) According to West, the incident report was false.

The Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") who conducted the hearing on these charges determined that the greater weight of evidence supported the finding that West committed the prohibited acts as charged, and imposed sanctions against West for the infractions. (Id. at 29-31.) Approximately six (6) months following the alleged sexual assault of August 10, 2010, West filed a grievance with respect to this issue. He claimed he was sexually assaulted by his cellmate on August 10, 2010, reported the matter to staff and that staff threatened him with respect to filing a complaint about this incident.

On April 15, 2011, Warden Bledsoe responded to the grievance for informational purposes only, and advised West of actions taken in response to his complaints. (Doc. No. 17-1 at 52.) He stated that because of the six (6) month gap in the reporting of the incident, the usual sexual assault protocol was not specifically followed. Bledsoe also noted that West had been medically assessed and interviewed on April 8, 2011 by SIS (the BOP's special investigations staff) about the reported assault. (Id.)

During the SIS interview regarding the alleged assault, West stated that he "attempted to notify staff by holding his food trays." (Doc. No. 17-1 at 42.) He also claimed to have told the Captain, Mr. Adami, and Lt. Carrasquillo that he needed to see medical, but admits he does ...

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