United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
TRACY R. BRADLEY, Plaintiff
Captain HARRIS, et al., Defendants
William J. Nealon United States District Judge
an inmate confined in the State Correctional Institution,
Albion, Pennsylvania, filed the above captioned civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He complains of an
incident which occurred at his former place of confinement,
the State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon
(“SCI-Huntingdon”), Pennsylvania. The action is
proceeding on Plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed
on November 23, 2016. (Doc. 69). Plaintiff challenges a
disciplinary hearing and the placement in a dry cell, pending
the investigation into the misconduct that resulted in the
disciplinary charges. Id. For relief, he seeks
compensatory and punitive damages for Defendants alleged
violation of Plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Id. The named Defendants are Department of
Corrections Secretary, John Wetzel, and the following
SCI-Huntingdon employees: Captain Harris, Lieutenant House,
Superintendent J. A. Eckard, Major Walters, Hearing Examiner
Hines and Ms. Connie Green. Id.
before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc.
70). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendants'
motion to dismiss will be granted.
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Under Rule 12(b)(6), we must “accept
all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine
whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the
plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Fowler v.
UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.2009) (quoting
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231
(3d Cir.2008)). While a complaint need only contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), and detailed factual allegations are not required,
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007), a complaint must plead “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570. “The plausibility standard is not
akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks
for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“[L]abels and conclusions” are not enough,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and a court
“‘is not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'”
Id. (quoted case omitted). Thus, “a judicial
conspiracy claim must include at least a discernible factual
basis to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal.”
Capogrosso v. The Supreme Court of New Jersey, 588
F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir.2009) (per curiam).
resolving the motion to dismiss, we thus “conduct a
two-part analysis.” Fowler, supra,
578 F.3d at 210. First, we separate the factual elements from
the legal elements and disregard the legal conclusions.
Id. at 210-11. Second, we “determine whether
the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show
that the plaintiff has a “ ‘plausible claim for
relief.' ” Id. at 211 (quoted case
addition, because Plaintiff complains about “prison
conditions, ” the screening provisions of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e apply, as do the screening provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e), given that he was granted in forma
pauperis status to pursue this suit. The court's
obligation to dismiss a complaint under the PLRA screening
provisions for complaints that fail to state a claim is not
excused even after defendants have filed a motion to dismiss.
See, e.g., Lopez v. Smith, 203
F.3d 1122, 1126 n. 6 (9th Cir.2000). Hence, if there is a
ground for dismissal which was not relied upon by a defendant
in a motion to dismiss, the court may nonetheless sua sponte
rest its dismissal upon such ground pursuant to the screening
provisions of the PLRA. See Lopez; Dare v.
U.S., Civil No. 06-115E, 2007 WL 1811198, at *4 (W.D.Pa.
June 21, 2007), aff'd, 264 Fed.Appx. 183 (3d Cir.2008).
Allegations in Complaint
November 2015, Plaintiff states the he was coming out of the
visiting hall to enter the room where you change clothes
after your visit, when “Officer Bowser and his partner
were waiting in the changing room and asked [Plaintiff] if
[he] had something in [his] mouth, at which time they told
[Plaintiff] to give them what [he] had in [his] mouth and
[he] did.” (Doc. 69). Plaintiff “explained that
Officer Kitchie had gave it to [him] prior to [him] going
into the visit hall” and “had told [him] to place
the item under [his] clothes, but [he] could not because
there was another inmate at the gate way trying to come into
the dressing room, so [he] was told to take the times with
[him] and to bring them back when [he] came back in after
being out on the visit.” Id. Plaintiff claims
that he tried to explain that “Officer Ritchie gave
them to [him] to give to another inmate and these acts were
out of necessity for the safety of [his] family.”
was then “taken to the RHU in SCI-Huntingdon, a call
was received and [Plaintiff] was given a Blue smock like
apparatus to put on without any underclothes on.”
Id. Plaintiff “was asked if [he] swallowed
anything and [he] told them no.” Id. Plaintiff
claims that he was then “cuffed to the wall” and
that “the hand of the wrist that was hanging” was
“hanging to such a degree that the nurse had to
repeatedly come and check the blood was still
circulating.” Id. Plaintiff states that he was
“in that room for seventy-two plush hours in the same
position” and that his “wrist was hurting [him]
very bad.” Id. While in the room, Plaintiff
states that “[he] was handcuffed to a wall like a
slave, like a dog, [he] was forced to lay in [his] own feces
wet with [his] own urine, there was no water in the room, the
toilet bowl and sink securely covered and taped so that it
could not be used, the officers watching [him] told [him] the
water was cut off in the room, there was plexy-glass covering
the bars, there was no way to flush a toilet, no way to throw
anything, there was a camera in the corner of the cell
suspended from the ceiling and an officer sitting there the
entire time, thus there was no way to discard, throw away any
alleged item [he] was to have had.” Id. He
claims he was then released to an observation room in the
eventually received an disciplinary hearing for the charge of
possession or use of a dangerous or controlled substance.
Id. Plaintiff was found not guilty of this charge,
but was found guilty of possession of contraband.
Id. Plaintiff was sanctioned to sixty (60) days in
disciplinary confinement for the misconduct. Id. He
claims that Defendants, Ms. Green and Superintendent Eckard
upheld the punishment provided by the hearing examiner.
filed the instant action in which he seeks compensatory and
punitive damages for “the pain and suffering [he]
endured as well as for the illegal disciplinary
confinement.” Id. Plaintiff claims that his
placement in the dry cell was in violation of his Eighth
Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment and
he challenges his disciplinary proceeding under the
Fourteenth Amendment. Id.