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Lorenzano v. Unit Manager Link

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 7, 2014



MARY A. McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.

Andre Lorenzano, the plaintiff in this civil rights action, is a former inmate at State Correctional Institution ("SCI") Graterford who is serving a state prison sentence in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC").[1] The defendants are SCI Graterford Unit Manager Cynthia Link and Lt. Lorie Eason.[2] Lorenzano filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Link and Eason violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by failing to protect him from his cellmate, Mark Galloway.[3]

The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. In his motion and his many supplemental filings with the Court, Lorenzano argues that he informed Link and Eason of the risk posed by Galloway and that they took no actions to protect him from that harm.[4] Link and Eason argue that they did not have knowledge of any substantial risk of harm to Lorenzano. Alternatively, they argue that they are shielded from suit by qualified immunity because the constitutional right at issue was not clearly established. The Court will deny both motions for summary judgment because there are disputed issues of material fact.[5]

I. Summary Judgment Record[6]

Lorenzano began his period of DOC custody in May 2009, when he arrived at SCI Pittsburgh. After a series of transfers, Lorenzano arrived at SCI Graterford on August 3, 2009. Lorenzano Dep. 9:15-11:9.

At the time of the events in question, Link was the "A" Unit Manager assigned to Housing Unit D at SCI Graterford ("D-Block"). Link's job duties included determining the cell assignments of the inmates on D-Block. In making cell assignments, Link considered the inmates' size, age, known dispositions, custody levels, program codes, criminal charges, misconduct history, and sexual predator status. Link Decl. ¶¶ 2, 4, 11, 16.

Eason was the 6:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. Lieutenant for D-Block at SCI Graterford. Eason was not authorized to unilaterally change an inmate's cell assignment within the block, but could transfer an inmate from D-Block to the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") if she had reason to believe the inmate was in danger and could not be protected by alternate measures. Eason Decl. ¶¶ 2, 7-8.

When he arrived at SCI Graterford, Lorenzano was initially assigned to the RHU. On October 19, 2009, Lorenzano was moved from the RHU to D-Block. Lorenzano Dep. 12:25-13:3, 19:7-10.

Link assigned Lorenzano to a double cell which already housed inmate Anthony Jones. Within a few weeks, Jones was reassigned and another inmate, Bradley Maines, moved into Lorenzano's cell. On December 4, 2009, Maines was moved to another cell. Lorenzano never had issues with either Jones or Maines, and thus never reported any issues with those cellmates to prison authorities. Link Decl. ¶ 23; Lorenzano Dep. 22:19-21, 41:15-45:8.

On December 7, 2009, Link assigned inmate Mark Galloway to Lorenzano's cell. Galloway was similar in size and age to Lorenzano, had the same custody level as Lorenzano, and had no known problems with cellmates. Link Decl. ¶¶ 32-34; Lorenzano Dep. 47:20-24.

Soon after Galloway moved into Lorenzano's cell, tensions arose between the cellmates. Lorenzano took issue with several aspects of Galloway's behavior in their cell. Galloway would get up in the middle of the night to brush his teeth, rocking Lorenzano's bunk in the process. Galloway often stood over top of Lorenzano when he would watch TV, putting his groin in Lorenzano's face. Galloway would also "holler out the door, " and would not wipe off the toilet after urinating on it. Lorenzano Dep. 51:13-55:11.

Galloway also initiated unwanted physical contact with Lorenzano. For example, he would sometimes sit on a crate and lean back onto Lorenzano's bed, touching Lorenzano's leg in the process. He also sometimes rubbed his elbow on Lorenzano's leg. On at least one occasion, Galloway grabbed Lorenzano. Galloway also screamed at Lorenzano, and the two cellmates often argued about their living situation. Lorenzano Dep. 54:24-56:18, 77:13-78:4.

Lorenzano reported his concerns to Link and Eason "every chance [he] got." He repeatedly asked to switch cells or be assigned a new cellmate. He told Link and Eason that he was afraid "something might happen in that cell and I don't want do [sic] get in no trouble, " that "the dude might do something, " and that he thought he and Galloway were "going to get into an incident." It is disputed whether Lorenzano ...

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