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Bennett v. Correctional Officer Washington

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 19, 2015



JOHN R. PADOVA, District Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights arising out of a prison assault in his unlocked cell and subsequent medical care. The Defendants are the City of Philadelphia and several of its employees: Correctional Officers ("COs") Sharon Neal and Clifton Washington, Lieutenants Elizabeth Henry and Danielle Lynn, and Sergeants Michael Sporango and Malachi White. Defendants have moved for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the following reasons, we grant the Motion in part, and deny it in part.


On November 19, 2009, Plaintiff was an inmate at the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"), which is part of the Philadelphia Prison System ("PPS"). (Bennett Dep. at 6, 8.) At 4:30 p.m., he was attacked by a number of unknown assailants who entered his cell, which was unlocked. (Id. at 10-11.) Plaintiff was punched repeatedly and suffered six stab wounds. (Id. at 11-12.) Prior to the attack, Plaintiff had no reason to fear that he would be stabbed, and he did not inform any guards that he thought he would be stabbed. (Id. at 10-11.)

A. Actions of Correctional Officers on Plaintiff's Housing Unit

COs Neal and Washington were on duty in Plaintiff's housing unit at the time he was attacked, and have testified that several cell doors were open when they began their shifts at 3:00 p.m. (Neal Dep. at 10-11, 21-22; Washington Dep. at 13.) According to CO Washington, he locked all of the cell doors when his shift began. (Washington Dep. at 13-14.) CO Neal testified that she and CO Washington "go around locking the [open] doors" when they begin their shift. (Neal Dep. at 22.) On November 19, 2009, however, CO Neal reported that "several" cell doors were open during her 4:30 p.m. tour (id. at 23), and that she asked Plaintiff at 4:32 p.m. if he wanted to come out before she secured his unlocked cell (id. at 27-28; Pl.'s Ex. O).[1]

Tours of Plaintiff's housing unit were logged at 3:18 p.m. (by CO Neal), 4:08 p.m. (by CO Washington), 4:21 p.m. (by CO Washington), 4:32 p.m. (by CO Neal), and 4:55 p.m. (by CO Neal). (Pl.'s Ex. D at 9.) CO Washington also reported that he conducted tours of Plaintiff's housing unit at 5:25 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. (Id.)

CO Washington asked Plaintiff at 5:00 p.m. if he wanted his food tray, but Plaintiff responded that he did not want to eat because he was tired. (Washington Dep. at 14-15.) CO Washington further testified that each time he toured Plaintiff's housing unit, Plaintiff was lying down on his bed, facing the wall, and said that he did not want to get up because he was tired. (Id. at 21.) In contrast, CO Neal testified that Plaintiff was standing during each of her tours. (Neal Dep. at 13-14.)

Plaintiff testified that he was in a tremendous amount of pain after the attack and that he had difficulty moving. (Bennett Dep. at 12.) He managed to get up from the floor and lay down on his bed. (Id. at 12-13.) He was bleeding from all of his wounds, but not profusely. (Id. at 13.) Plaintiff testified that COs Washington and/or Neal were alerted to his stabbing at approximately 6:30 p.m. or 6:35 p.m. (id. at 13-14), but COs Washington and Neal stated that they became aware of the stabbing at 5:50 p.m. (Pl.'s Exs. O, P). CO Washington testified that he learned of the stabbing from CO Neal, who had asked Plaintiff why he was standing in the doorway of his cell, to which Plaintiff responded, "because I was stabbed." (Neal Dep. at 14-16; Washington Dep. at 10.) Once CO Washington arrived on the scene, CO Neal immediately called Sergeant White. (Neal Dep. at 16.) Sergeant White testified that the COs informed him of the stabbing at 6:00 p.m. and that he called the medical unit because "[y]ou have to send them down to medical." (White Dep. at 23-24, 31.) Sergeant White arrived on the scene within seconds. (Washington Dep. at 32; White Dep. at 31.)

Less than a minute after CO Washington was informed of the stabbing, either he or Sergeant White took Plaintiff out of his cell to the Sally port, a controlled entryway into and out of Plaintiff's housing unit. (Neal Dep. at 16-17; Washington Dep. at 32; Pl.'s Exs. O, P.) Before Plaintiff was taken to the medical unit, Sergeant White asked Plaintiff what had happened and told him that he would be sent to the medical unit. (Bennett Dep. at 14-15; White Dep. at 24-27.) Plaintiff informed Sergeant White that the stabbing had "occurred inside [his] unlocked multipurpose room" and that "a number of inmates" had stabbed him. (Bennett Dep. at 15.) He also informed Sergeant White that he was in a great deal of pain and was experiencing shortness of breath. (Id. at 18.) Sergeant White testified, however, that Plaintiff had no visible injuries. (White Dep. at 24-25.)

Plaintiff testified that when he told Sergeant White that he had been attacked in his unlocked cell, CO Washington admitted to Sergeant White that he had failed to secure Plaintiff's cell door. (Bennett Dep. at 15.) CO Washington testified, however, that he had "locked everything, " including Plaintiff's cell door, when he made his first tour after beginning his shift. (Washington Dep. at 13-14, 20.) CO Washington further testified that in his conversation with Sergeant White, he merely recounted the fact that several cell doors had been open when his shift began. (Id. at 29.)

CO Washington stated that he, Plaintiff, and Sergeant White were only in the Sally port for a matter of seconds and that Plaintiff was then taken to the medical unit. (Id. at 27-28.) CO Neal testified that she witnessed the conversation in the Sally port between Sergeant White and Plaintiff. (Neal Dep. at 17.) Sergeant White testified that Plaintiff was taken to the medical unit "right away" once he arrived on the scene. (White Dep. at 32.)

Plaintiff also testified that before he was taken to the medical unit, he was taken to the unit management area, where he was questioned by a correctional officer named Edwards for approximately ten minutes. (Bennett Dep. at 15, 18.) Plaintiff reports that CO Edwards asked him who had stabbed him, where it occurred, what the assailants looked like, and what their names were. (Id. at 15.) Plaintiff informed her that he did not know who had stabbed him. (Id. at 16.) According to Plaintiff, he was then left unsupervised in the unit management area for twenty or twenty-five minutes before he was taken to the medical unit.[2] (Id. at 17-18.)

B. The Medical Ward

One or two rovers took Plaintiff to the medical unit at approximately 7:15 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.[3] (Bennett Dep. at 14, 18; Neal Dep. at 18; Washington Dep. at 28; White Dep. at 27; Boggio Verification at 2.) It takes anywhere from one to five minutes to get from Plaintiff's housing unit to the medical ward. (Henry Dep. at 23-24; Lynn Dep. at 34-35; White Dep. at 22.)

Plaintiff testified that once he arrived at the medical ward, and before he was treated, Lieutenants Henry and Lynn and Sergeant Sporango questioned him about who had stabbed him and where the stabbing had occurred. (Bennett Dep. at 19.) Lieutenant Henry admitted that she asked Plaintiff questions in the medical ward. (Henry Dep. at 14-17). However, Lieutenant Lynn denied being involved in the investigation of Plaintiff's stabbing (Lynn Dep. at 36), and Sergeant Sporango does not recall anything about the investigation (Sporango Dep. at 12).

Plaintiff's and Lieutenant Henry's accounts differ with respect to when Plaintiff received medical treatment. Plaintiff testified that he was questioned before his medical needs were addressed by Dr. Boggio and that Dr. Boggio, who was present, never attempted to interrupt the questioning (Bennett Dep. at 20), whereas Lieutenant Henry testified that Plaintiff was receiving medical care from Dr. Boggio when she arrived at the medical unit and that she "might have" begun questioning Plaintiff while he was being treated (Henry Dep. at 16-17). Plaintiff testified that the questioning lasted for approximately ...

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