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. Mr. Cadet, a
frequent resident of the Berks County Jail, views his time
there as a limitless opportunity to file one lawsuit after
another, each as frivolous as its predecessor.
the sixth case Cadet has filed for alleged constitutional
violations while incarcerated in Berks County. See Cadet
v. The Owners of Berks County Jail, et. al., No.
16-cv-03804 (E.D. Pa. July 25, 2016) (dismissing Cadet's
complaint as legally frivolous for allegations that prison
officials violated his rights under § 1983 by raising
the price of telephone calls without giving him advance
notice); Cadet v. Quigley, et. al., No. 16-cv-03025
(E.D. Pa. Sept. 6, 2016) (dismissing Cadet's complaint as
legally frivolous for allegations that being forced to eat
close to an open toilet violated his constitutional rights);
Cadet v. The Owners of the Berks County Jail, et.
al., No. 16-cv- 03805 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 6, 2016)
(dismissing Cadet's complaint because it is duplicative
of his claims in civil action number 16-3025); Cadet v.
Quigley, et. al., 2017 WL 660849 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 16,
2017) (dismissing Cadet's claim alleging that his Eighth
Amendment rights were violated because the “Thursday
ham slice” served in prison prevented him from
maintaining an adequate diet); Cadet v. The Owners of
Berks County Jail, et. al., 2017 WL 660847 (E.D. Pa.
Feb. 16, 2017) (dismissing Cadet's claims alleging that
his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated
because he was allegedly subject to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement during a 10-day stay in the
latest, but undoubtedly not final, misuse of the civil
justice system fares no better. Before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment which the Court
grants for the reasons that follow.
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.) Cadet alleges that as a result, he suffers
daily from severe migraine headaches and a
“light-induced suppression of melatonin” which
impedes his ability to sleep, causing pain throughout his
whole body. (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
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), and on February 15, 2017, the Court granted in part the
Defendants' motion to dismiss and dismissed Cadet's
claims against the jail's “owners” based on a
lack of sufficient personal involvement in any alleged
wrongdoing. (ECF Nos. 23, 24.) The Court denied the motion to
dismiss with respect to Defendants Quigley, Smith, and
Torres. (Id.) The Court held a Rule 16 Conference on
April 4, 2017 which Cadet participated in through
videoconference. (ECF No. 30.) Following the conference, the
Court issued a scheduling order permitting Defendants to file
their motion for summary judgment on or before May 19, 2017.
(ECF No. 32.)
filed their Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of
Uncontested Material Facts on May 17, 2017. (ECF Nos. 33,
34.) The Court held an additional telephone conference on May
30, 2017 to assess Cadet's discovery needs, (ECF No. 38),
and ordered the Clerk to refer Cadet's case to the
prisoner Civil Rights Panel for a possible appointment of
counsel, (ECF No. 39). Cadet sent several responses to
Defendants' motion, including letters dated June 27, 2017
and July 27, 2017. (ECF. Nos. 44, 47.) Cadet asked the Court
to “[p]lease allow [him] just a few weeks [for him to]
send in some information from research conducted at
universities on the negative effects of not only constant
exposure to fluorescence light but many more details
also.” (ECF No. 47.) The Court permitted Cadet to do so
and he submitted two letters including an article on lighting
in English prisons, Wikipedia research on over-illumination
and health effects, a printout from hubpages.com with no
author, an article about fluorescent lighting in schools, a
brief article on the impact of constant exposure to light on
mice, an article about the health effects of fluorescent
lights, and four articles on the effect of sleeping with the
lights on. (ECF Nos. 52, 53.) Defendants replied. (ECF Nos.
46, 54.) Despite his numerous submissions, Cadet never
responded to the Defendants' Statement of Uncontested
Material Facts, particularly the information pertaining to
the wattage of the bulbs in the prison lights in the
Affidavit submitted by Jeffrey Smith, the Chief Deputy Warden
at Berks County Jail System.
judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material
fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Smathers v. Multi-Tool,
Inc./Multi-Plastics, Inc. Emp. Health & Welfare
Plan, 298 F.3d 191, 194 (3d Cir. 2002); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material
fact exists when “a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A mere
scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party will
not suffice; there must be evidence by which a jury could
reasonably find for the non-moving party. Id. at
252. Summary judgment is appropriate where “the
nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of her case with respect to which she has
the burden of proof.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “If the
evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).
This requirement upholds the “underlying purpose of
summary judgment [which] is to avoid a pointless trial in
cases where it is unnecessary and would only cause delay and
expense.” Walden v. Saint Gobain Corp., 323
F.Supp.2d 637, 642 (E.D. Pa. 2004) (citing Goodman v.
Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir.
1976)).” Benckini v. Hawk, 654 F.Supp.2d 310,
315 (E.D. Pa. 2009).
reviewing the record, a court “must view the facts in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all
inferences in that party's favor.” Prowel v.
Wise Bus. Forms, 579 F.3d 285, 286 (3d Cir. 2009). The
court may not, however, make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence in considering motions for summary
judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also Goodman v. Pa. Tpk.
Comm'n, 293 F.3d 655, 665 (3d Cir. 2002).
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”). 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)). On a motion for summary
judgment, although the court will liberally construe a
pro se plaintiff's complaint, the plaintiff
“still has ...