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Lim v. Cruz

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

March 13, 2015

ROLANDO CRUZ, et al., Defendants.


Hon. John E. Jones III.


On January 22, 2014, Plaintiff, Joseph Allan Lim, an inmate previously confined at the York County Prison, in York, Pennsylvania, [1] initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are: Doug Hoke, York County Commissioner; and the following employees of the York County Prison: Mary Sabol, Warden; Rolando Cruz, Captain; Sean Rohrbaugh, Captain; Jeffrey Gibson, Lieutenant; Claire Doll, Deputy Warden of Treatment; M. Buono, Deputy Warden of Security; Grier, Correctional Officer; John Straley, Correctional Officer; Max Fink, Correctional Officer; Jack Snyder, Correctional Officer; and, Valerie Krepps, Grievance Coordinator. (Id.).

Presently pending before the Court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 15). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.


Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint on January 22, 2014. (Doc. 1). Initially, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hoke “is legally responsible for the overall operation of the County of York ... including the York County Prison.” (Id. at p. 1). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Sabol “is responsible legally for the operation of the York County Prison and for the welfare of all the inmates in that prison.” (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that on June 4, 2012, he witnessed a retaliatory cell search and verbal assault of another inmate by Defendant Straley. (Id. at p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that he filed a grievance regarding the events he witnessed. (Id.). The grievance and subsequent appeal were denied because “[i]nmates may not file a grievance on behalf of another inmate.” (Id. at pp. 2-3).

Also on June 4, 2012, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the denial of the “right to send/receive mail.” (Id. at p. 3). The grievance was rejected and signed by Defendant Krepps. (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that in the early hours of June 7, 2012, he was removed from his cell by Defendant Grier and informed that he was being moved to a different cell. (Id.). Before the move, Plaintiff was questioned by Defendant Cruz as to why he filed grievances. (Id.). During this “interrogation”, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Cruz and Fink warned him to “mind [his] business” and indicated that he was being moved to a different housing block based on his grievance statements that he feared for his “well-being and safety.” (Id.). However, in an apparent attempt to avoid the move, Plaintiff states that he did not fear physical harm, rather he feared “mental, psychological, emotional, and reta[]liatory forms of ‘harm’”. (Id.). Regardless, Plaintiff was moved to a differing housing block. (Id. at pp. 3-4). Plaintiff alleges that when he was escorted to the new housing block, he was subjected to an unwarranted strip search. (Id. at p. 4). Plaintiff initially refused the strip search, but he alleges that Defendants Gibson, Fink and Snyder threatened to assault him and forcefully perform the strip search in an “unsanitary cell” if he did not comply. (Id.). Plaintiff submitted to the strip search, on the condition that the officers provide their names and badge numbers so Plaintiff could pursue a lawsuit against them. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that he was asked to sign forms regarding the cell condition, which he refused to signed, and was forced to sign a personal property inventory form, without being able to verify if any property was missing. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that some of his property was missing and/or broken, including legal mail and grievance paperwork. (Id.).

On June 7, 2012, Plaintiff claims that he filed a grievance regarding the inventory of his personal property. (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff states that Defendant Rohrbaugh responded to the grievance on July 5, 2012. (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that due to the above-described treatment, he went on a hunger strike until he could speak to Defendant Sabol. (Id.).

Plaintiff also states that he “correspond[ed]” with Defendant Reihart. (Id. at p. 5).

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff alleges violations of his First Amendment right to free speech, right to due process, right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures, and free from cruel and unusual punishment, and he expresses dissatisfaction with the prison grievance system. (Id. at p. 7).

For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and costs. (Id. at p. 2).

On June 6, 2014, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss along with a supporting brief. (Docs. 15, 16). Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint based on his failure to establish a specific violation of his constitutional rights. (Doc. 16). Specifically, Defendants argue that Plaintiff failed to allege the personal involvement of Defendants Hoke and Sabol, and failed to maintain any constitutional claim based upon the inadequacy of the prison grievance system, denial of the use of mail, being subjected to a strip search, and ...

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