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Pearson v. Williams

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 11, 2015



WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, District Judge.

I. Introduction

The pro se plaintiff, Antonio Pearson, is a state inmate formerly confined at the state correctional institution in Coal Township, Pennsylvania.[1] On July 17, 2013, Pearson filed this civil-rights lawsuit alleging that his prison unit manager at Coal Township, Thomas Williams, the only defendant named in the complaint, revoked his single-cell housing status (known as a "Z Code") in March 2011 in retaliation for his filing of grievances and complaints. (Doc. 1, Compl.)

Presently before the court is Williams' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. 18, Mot. to Dismiss). On August 28, 2014, after receiving several enlargements, Pearson filed an opposition brief and requested leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 34). He simultaneously submitted his proposed amended complaint. (Doc. 33). Defendant then filed a brief in opposition to Pearson's leave to amend. (Doc. 36).

For the reasons discussed below, the court will grant Defendant Williams' motion to dismiss, deny Pearson's request to file his proposed amended complaint, but allow Pearson to file an amended complaint naming only Unit Manager Williams and Counselor Aikey.

II. Background

A. Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that as of July 17, 2013, when he filed the Complaint, he had been incarcerated for over twenty-four years. (Doc. 1, ECF p. 4). He is a 2000 graduate of the Department of Corrections Special Management Unit (SMU). ( Id. ) He has been housed in a single cell, pursuant to a "Z code" classification, from 1998 to 2011. ( Id. ) His Z code was based on the accusation that he tried to rape and assault a former cellmate. ( Id. ) Sometime in 2011 "defendants" revoked his single-cell status and required him to share a cell with another inmate. ( Id. ) "Defendants say they took the plaintiff's single cell because of [his] good behavior, which is a lie, because 14 months previous to this, they said that plaintiff had Assaulted another inmate in his cell... [also] after these defendants took the plaintiff's Z-Code, these same defendants took the plaintiff's [security] level up to a level (4) four, from a lower level (3) three". ( Id. at ECF p. 5). Pearson argues that "defendants took his single cell in retaliation for filing grievances against [SCI-Coal Township] staff". ( Id., ECF p. 4).

Pearson does not want a cellmate. ( Id. at ECF p. 5). He has warned the defendants "because he would not be able to deal with another inmate and might hurt them or they might hurt" him. ( Id. ) Even though "defendants" moved him frequently, and did not "give the plaintiff the cellie he really wanted, " defendants were surprised when Pearson did accept a cellmate. ( Id. )

Unit Manager Thomas Williams is the only defendant named in the caption or body of the Complaint.

B. Proposed Amended Complaint

The proposed amended complaint seeks to add ten new defendants, all of whom are DOC administrators or SCI-Coal Township employees: Secretary Wetzel; Deputy Secretary Klopotoski; Chief Grievance Officer Dorina Varner; Executive Staff Assistant Anthony Luscavage; SCI-Coal Township Superintendent Varano; Deputy Superintendent Ellett; Deputy Superintendent McMillan; Major of the Guard, George Miller; Major of Unit Management, Mike Miller; and Counselor Aickey. (Doc. 33, Proposed Am. Compl.)

Pearson alleges that on March 23, 2011, Defendant Williams told him that his single cell status was being revoked "and the vote sheet was going around." ( Id., ECF p. 9). Pearson then wrote to defendants McMillian, Ellett, Varano, M. Miller, Wetzel and Klopotoski about "defendant Williams and Aickey trying to take his Z-Code in retaliation for grievances" he has filed against staff. ( Id. ) He claims these defendants supported Wiliams' and Aickey's retaliatory actions "when they voted to take the Plaintiff's Z-Code." ( Id. )

Pearson avers that from June 2010 until March 2011, Williams "went on a campaign of retaliation" against him for filing various grievances. He alleges Williams retaliated against him by refusing to give him a unit job, moved him frequently from cell to cell, and then by finally removing his Z-Code status. He claims Aickey and Williams initiated the removal of his Z-Code in hopes that Pearson would refuse to accept a cellmate so they could issue him a misconduct and place him in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). ( Id. ) Defendants Varano, Ellett, McMillan, M. Miller, G. Miller, Wetzel and Klopotoski "all voted to remove the plaintiff's Z-Code, " knowing it was initiated for retaliatory reasons. Since the removal of his Z-Code, Pearson "constantly worked with the defendants about this cellie situation but it is not working and the plaintiff is getting more and more frustrated." ( Id., ECF p. 10). Pearson seeks monetary damages from each defendant.

III. Discussion

Where arguments presented in Defendant Williams' motion to dismiss and his opposition to Pearson's request to amend his complaint ...

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