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Ridgeway v. Guyton

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 2, 2015

THEODORE RIDGEWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
MR. GUYTON, Unit Manager; CORRECTION OFFICER HENDERSON; MR. FOLIO, Superintendent; TRACY SHAWLEY, Grievance Officer; DORINA VARNER, Chief Grievance Officer, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER Re: ECF No. 22

MAUREEN P. KELLY, Chief Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Theodore Ridgeway ("Plaintiff") is an inmate in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), and is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution ("SCI") at Albion. Plaintiff brings this civil rights action against Unit Manager, Mr. Guyton ("Guyton"), Correctional Officer Henderson ("Henderson"), Superintendent Folino ("Folino"), Tracey Shawley, Grievance Coordinator ("Shawley"), and Dorina Varner, Chief Grievance Office ("Varner") (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging that Defendants violated his rights provided by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution relative to the conditions of his confinement while he was incarcerated at SCI Greene.

Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint submitted by Defendants. ECF No. 22. For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

According to the Amended Complaint, from mid-October until November 18, 2011, while Plaintiff was housed on B-block, A-pod, Cell 15 at SCI Greene, his toilet was broken and "would overflow" with fecal matter, urine and a black substance. ECF No. 15, p. 3, ¶¶ 1, 2. Plaintiff contends that he complained to Defendant Henderson about his toilet and was told by Henderson that he would submit a work order. Plaintiff complains, however, that the only work order placed by Henderson was for the floor drain on the unit and not Plaintiff's toilet. Id. at pp. 3-4, ¶¶ 3, 12, 17. Plaintiff alleges that he also informed Defendant Guyton of the problem with his toilet sometime after November 10, 2011, but that no action was taken. Id. at p. 3, ¶ 4. Ultimately, on November 18, 2011, Plaintiff claims that his toilet overflowed and flooded his cell with feces and urine water. Id. at ¶ 6. Plaintiff notified the corrections officers on duty at the time and was provided with a mop to clean his cell. Id. at ¶¶ 6, 7. According to Plaintiff, however, as a result of the flood some of his personal and legal property was destroyed. Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff complains that it was not until after he filed a grievance ("the Grievance") on November 26, 2011, regarding his lost property that the issue with his toilet was addressed. Id. at pp. 3-4, ¶¶ 9, 13.

Plaintiff initiated this action on August 29, 2013, by filing a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis, along with a copy of his Complaint. ECF No. 1. The Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis was granted by the Court on September 19, 2013, ECF No. 2, and the Complaint was filed on that same date. ECF No. 3. On November 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 14, which was granted by the Court on November 18, 2013. ECF: 11/18/2013 Text Order. In the Amended Complaint, ECF No. 15, which was filed on the same day and remains the operative complaint, Plaintiff brings a claim under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution alleging that the cell conditions to which he was exposed violated his right against cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff also appears to bring a claim under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment relative to the personal and legal property that was allegedly destroyed as a result of the flood in his cell on November 18, 2011.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint on June 6, 2014, ECF No. 22, to which Plaintiff responded on July 14, 2014. ECF Nos. 25, 26. As such, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is ripe for review.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In assessing the sufficiency of the complaint pursuant to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all material 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 bald assertions or inferences drawn by the plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts set forth in the complaint. See California Publ. Employees' Ret. Sys. 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. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id., citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has 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, or where the factual content does not allow the court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (finding that, under Twombly, "labels, conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" do not suffice but, rather, the complaint "must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed] conduct" and that are sufficient "to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s] of his claim").

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff has brought his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"), which provides that:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

42 U.S.C. § 1983. "Section 1983 provides remedies for deprivations of rights established in the Constitution or federal laws. It does not, by its own terms, create substantive rights." Kaucher v. Cnty. of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006), citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 145 n. 3 (1979) (footnote omitted). Thus, in order to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, the plaintiff must allege facts from which it could be inferred that "the defendant, acting under color of state law, deprived him or her of a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States." Id. at 423. As previously discussed, Plaintiff in this case alleges that Defendants deprived ...


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