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Huey v. Cambria County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 15, 2015

LISA R. HUEY, in her capacity as Administratrix of the ESTATE of WILLIAM H. SHERRY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMBRIA COUNTY, a municipality, JOHN FRANK, an individual, and WILLIAM CRAMER, an individual, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KIM R. GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 29). Plaintiff initially filed a complaint against Defendants Cambria County, William Cramer and John Frank on February 19, 2014. (ECF No. 1). The Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint, but granted Plaintiff leave to amend. (ECF No. 27). Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on February 4, 2015. (ECF No. 28). Defendants now move to dismiss the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 29). Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint still fails to state a viable claim against Cambria County and Corrections Officer Frank. (ECF No. 30 at 2).

II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the claims were brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b)(1) and (2) because a substantial part of the events and occurrences giving rise to the claims arose in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Defendants reside within the district.

III. BACKGROUND

a. Statement of Facts

The Court will briefly set out the facts of this case. A detailed description of the factual background is provided in this Court’s earlier Memorandum Opinion. (ECF No. 27 at 2).

William Sherry (“Sherry”) was housed in a cell in the Disciplinary Housing Unit in Cambria County Prison with Defendant William Cramer (“Cramer”), who had been assigned a “z” classification within the State Correctional system because of his violent history. (ECF No. 28 at ¶ 21). According to the Amended Complaint, the classification indicated that Defendant Cramer was not to be housed with another inmate and was “physically provided, ” along with the reasoning therefor, to the Cambria County Prison by employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections upon Defendant Cramer’s transfer to the Cambria County Prison. (Id. at ¶ 23). On their first day housed together, Defendant Cramer assaulted Sherry by binding his hands, feet, and ankles with bed sheets and placing a sock gag in his mouth before continuing a further assault. (Id. at ¶¶ 26–27). Defendant Cramer used a piece of bed sheet to strangle Mr. Sherry to death. (Id. at ¶ 29).

Defendant Cramer communicated the details of the murder to John Teston, an inmate who was housed next to Defendant Cramer, through an air vent and via a letter. (Id. at ¶ 44). He wrote that “there’s 4 things I hate the most, a n---er, a half-breed, a n---er lover, and someone who associates with em.” (Id. at ¶ 46). Defendant Cramer also described Corrections Officer Frank (“CO Frank”) as “one of us” and “a skin.” (Id. at ¶ 48). He stated that CO Frank had entered his cell earlier in the day and had informed him that Sherry was a “half-breed mongrel, ” which Mr. Cramer had previously been unaware of. (Id. at ¶¶ 49–51). At Defendant Cramer’s criminal trial, CO Frank testified that he had in fact entered Defendant Cramer and Sherry’s cell around 6:30 p.m. (Id. at ¶ 55). At the bottom of the letter to Mr. Teston, Defendant Cramer wrote “Pearl Kings” surrounded by two swastikas. (Id. at ¶ 57).

IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court’s previous Memorandum Opinion set out the standard of review for a motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 27 at 4). It will not be restated here.

V. DISCUSSION

a. Defendants’ motion to ...


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