United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Jerry Cadet, a pro se inmate at Berks County Jail,
sued Warden Janine Quigley, C. Deputy Smith, Captain Torres,
Christian Leinbach, Kevin Barnhardt, Mark Scott and Sandy
Graffius, claiming sleep deprivation and related injury from
constant illumination of lights in his cell. Though he does
not specify the authority under which he brings his claim,
such allegations are analyzed under the Eighth Amendment.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. The Court grants the motion in part and denies it in
alleges that the jail keeps the lights on in his cell
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. (Pl.'s
Compl., at 3, ECF No. 5.) According to Cadet, Warden Quigley,
C. Deputy Smith and Captain Torres have the authority to
order that the lights be turned off at night but refuse to do
so. (Id.) As a result, Cadet alleges that he suffers
a “light-induced suppression of melatonin” and is
unable to rest at all. (Id.) He states that as of
the May 28, 2016 signing of his complaint, the lights had
been on since February 13, 2016 and that he was unable to
sleep for several months. (Id.) He contends that he
experienced severe migraine headaches and constant pain
throughout his body due to a complete lack of sleep.
allegedly filed, to no avail, several grievances regarding
the problem. (Id. at 4.) He states that
“different levels of officers including the
Warden” “answered some forms” but
“the grievances were never answered.”
(Id.) He also claims that “Captain Torres
spoke to [him] once and denied [his] request to have the
light off sometimes even as [he] sat before him in pain from
the situation with the lights.” (Id.)
filed his complaint on July 11, 2016, asserting claims
against Quigley, Smith, Torres and “the owners of Berks
County Jail.” (ECF No. 5.) On July 20 Cadet wrote a
letter to the Clerk of the Court naming Leinbach, Barnhardt,
Scott and Graffius as the jail's purported
owners. (ECF No. 8.) These individuals were
substituted as defendants in the case on July 28. (ECF No.
9.) On September 8 Defendants filed their motion to dismiss.
(ECF No. 20.) After receiving copies of the motion, Cadet
wrote to the Court on October 12 stating that it was his
understanding that his case had been dismissed and requesting
to be reimbursed for the filing fee. (ECF No. 21.) On October
21 the Court issued an order clarifying that Cadet's case
had not been dismissed and directing Cadet to file a response
to the motion to dismiss by November 21. (ECF No. 22.)
date, Cadet has not filed any type of responsive pleading nor
requested an extension of time in which to do so. The Court
will nevertheless analyze the motion on the merits. See
Jones v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 381 F.
App'x 187, 189 (3d Cir. 2010) (holding that a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) should not be granted without an
analysis of the merits, notwithstanding local rules regarding
unopposed motions, especially where the party is not
represented); Ray v. Reed, 240 F. App'x 455, 456
(3d Cir. 2007) (same); see also Carter v. Harper,
No. 2:14- 01260, 2015 WL 3485726, at *2-3 (W.D. Pa. June 2,
2015) (analyzing pro se complaint on the merits
despite plaintiff's failure to file a response);
Malcomb v. Beaver Cty. Pa. (Prothonotary), No. 2:13-
1772, 2014 WL 2195410, at *1 (W.D. Pa. May 27, 2014),
aff'd sub nom. Malcomb v. Beaver Cty. Pa.
(Prothonotary), 616 F. App'x 44 (3d Cir. 2015)
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff
must plead factual allegations sufficient “to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level. . . on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The “mere
possibility of misconduct” is not enough. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). The court must
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809
F.3d 780, 790 (3d Cir. 2016) (citations omitted). However, a
court need not accept as true inferences drawn by the
plaintiff that are unsupported by facts. See Cal. Pub.
Emps.' Ret. Sys. v. Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143
(3d Cir. 2004).
Cadet filed his complaint pro se, the Court
“must liberally construe his pleadings.”
Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir.
2003) (citation omitted); see also Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (holding that pro se
pleadings, “however inartfully pleaded, ” must be
held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers”). “Courts are to construe
complaints so ‘as to do substantial justice, '
keeping in mind that pro se complaints in particular
should be construed liberally.” Bush v. City of
Philadelphia, 367 F.Supp.2d 722, 725 (E.D. Pa. 2005)
(quoting Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 234 (3d
Cir. 2004)). Moreover, in a § 1983 action, the Court
must “apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether
a pro se litigant has mentioned it by name.”
Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002)
(quoting Holley v. Dep't of Veteran Affairs, 165
F.3d 244, 247-48 (3d Cir. 1999)); see also Nami v.
Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (“Since this
is a § 1983 action, the [pro se] plaintiffs are
entitled to relief if their complaint sufficiently alleges
deprivation of any right secured by the Constitution.”
(quoting Higgins, 293 F.3d at 688)).
“the Constitution ‘does not mandate comfortable
prisons, ' . . . neither does it permit inhumane ones,
” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)
(quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349
(1981)), and “the treatment a prisoner receives in
prison and the conditions under which he is confined are
subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, ”
id. (quoting Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S.
25, 31 (1993)). At minimum, “prison officials must
ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter,
and medical care, and must ‘take reasonable measures to
guarantee the safety of the inmates.'” Id.
(quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27
(1984)). The Eighth Amendment also “prohibits
punishments which, although not physically barbarous,
‘involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346 (quoting
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)).
“Among ‘unnecessary and wanton' inflictions
of pain are those that are ‘totally without penological
justification.'” Id. (citing
Gregg, 428 U.S. at 183; Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976)).
harms violate the Eighth Amendment, however. See
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. “[A] prison official
violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are
met. First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively,
sufficiently serious, . . . [it] must result in the denial of
the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities.” Id. (internal citations
omitted). Proving that one has been deprived of the minimal
civilized measures of life's necessities requires proof
that one has been denied “basic human needs, such as
food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care and
personal safety.” Griffin v. Vaughn, 112 F.3d
703, 709 (3d Cir. 1997).
the “prison official must have a ‘sufficiently
culpable state of mind.'” Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 834 (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297
(1991)). “In prison-condition cases[, ] that state of
mind is one of ‘deliberate indifference' to inmate
health or safety.” Id. “[D]eliberate
indifference entails something more than mere negligence . .
. it is satisfied by something less than acts or omissions
for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that
harm will result.” Id. “[A] prison
official may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment for
denying humane conditions of ...