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Lawrence v. Superintendent Dauphin County Prison

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 1, 2017


          Judge Brann


          Susan E. Schwab United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction.

         On May 16, 2017, this Court granted pro se plaintiff, Lionel Lawrence, Sr. (“Lawrence”), leave to file an amended complaint. Doc. 10. After screening Lawrence's amended complaint, we conclude that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and that granting Lawrence further leave to amend would be futile. Therefore, we recommend that the claims be dismissed without further leave to amend.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History.

         A. Lawrence's Initial Complaint.

         On November 15, 2016, Lawrence, proceeding pro se, commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 case by filing a complaint and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Docs. 1, 6. In the caption of his complaint, Lawrence listed several defendants, some of which were unnamed. Doc. 1. at 1. On the second page, however, Lawrence specifically named the following defendants: (1) Joseph Gavazzi, Dauphin County District Attorney; (2) Edward Marisco, Jr., Dauphin County District Attorney; (3) Judge John F. Cherry; (4) Randy Mumma, Probation and Parole Officer; (5) Superintendent of the Dauphin County Prison; (6) the Dauphin County Public Defender's Office; and (7) Bobby Sisock; Deputy Court Administrator. Id. at 2. Thus, we treated the allegations in the complaint as being brought against these specifically named defendants, but noted that in his amended complaint, he should clarify who he is suing. Doc. 10 at 2 n.1.

         Lawrence alleged that during his time in the Dauphin County Prison as a pre-trial detainee, he was subject to cruel and unusual punishment by the Superintendent, the staff, and the administrative officials. Doc. 1 at 3. He further alleged that at the time of his detainment, he was disabled and that his civil rights were violated by the prison, the city of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, the District Attorney's office, the Public Defender's office, the Probation and Parole Office, the Superintendent, municipal and state prison administrators, and the judges who set his bail. Id. Lawrence complained that he was detained for 22 or 23 hours a day with other inmates in the Restrictive Housing Unit. Id. He also complained that during meals, he was forced to eat near the toilet which smells of sewer, that the cells have no air, heat, or open windows, and that mice and bugs run around the cells. Id. Lawrence stated that during this time, he became very sick, but he was not provided with medical assistance. Id. He also stated that he had rashes all over his body as a result of not being able to take showers and that he was forced to “wash up” in the cells sometimes without soap, washcloths, toothbrushes or toothpaste, and other hygienic items. Id. Lawrence stated that he filed ten grievances with the Dauphin County Prison, but never received a reply back because his complaints were thrown away. Id. at 4-5.

         Lawrence alleged that these facts constituted violations of the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 3-5. Furthermore, he stated that the defendants violated the American Disability Act, the Pre-Trial Detainee Law, and the False Imprisonment Law. Id. at 5. Lawrence requested that the defendants be terminated and imprisoned, and he also sought $60 million in damages from Dauphin County including $20 million in nominal damages, $20 million in punitive damages, and $20 million in compensatory damages. Id.

         After reviewing the complaint, we concluded that it failed to state a claim. On May 16, 2017, we granted Lawrence leave to file an amended complaint. Doc. 10. On June 14, 2017, Lawrence filed his amended complaint. Doc. 11.

         B. Lawrence's Amended Complaint.

         Lawrence names the following as defendants in his amended complaint:

         (1) Edward M. Marsico, Jr., District Attorney; (2) John F. Cherry, Judge; (3) Randy Mumma, Probation and Parole Office; (4) “Superintendent, Et-Al”, Dauphin County Prison;[1] and (5) Joseph Gavazzi.[2] Id. at 2. Lawrence alleges that these defendants violated the Fourteenth, Eighth, and Fifth Amendments, as well as the “Due Process Clause Law, ” the American Disability Act (ADA), the Pre-Trial Detainee Law, the False Imprisonment Law, and the “Cruel and Unusual Punishment Law.” Id. at 5. Lawrence requests money damages, as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. Id. at 3. He also requests $20 million in nominal damages for “rights violated, ” $20 million in punitive damages for “hurt-you-on-purpose” harm, and $20 million in compensatory damages for physical harm sustained. Id.

         While the amended complaint is 68 pages long, [3] only the first 20 pages contain allegations.[4] The latter portion consists of exhibits, recitations of case law, and copied sections of the Legal Bulletins from the Lewisburg Prison Project, the Prisoner's Self-Help Litigation Manual, and of the ADA. Id. at 20-68. When screening an amended complaint, we look only at the allegations as presented. To the extent that Lawrence intends for these attachments to be part of his allegations, he has not cited to them or explained their significance. Thus, we will not consider the attachments as setting forth allegations.

         Lawrence states that he and other inmates are locked in their cells with no air conditioning or heat for 22 to 23 hours a day as if they are in the Restrictive Housing Unit, the “Hole, ” or in the Segregated Housing Unit. Id. at 10. Lawrence alleges that when food is delivered to his cell, he is forced to eat next to the toilet, which he claims is a civil rights violation. Id. at 11. Lawrence also alleges that the Dauphin County Prison has a large area for inmates to enjoy recreational time, but that the “Ground Hogs” own it. Id. When inmates are released for recreational time, Lawrence claims they only have a walkway and a trash can on which to play cards. Id. Lawrence next states that he is charged as an inmate for room and board at an amount of $10 per day and claims this is a civil rights violation. Id. at 11-12.

         Lawrence states that pretrial detainees have a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and that the Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishments, unsanitary, dangerous, or overly restrictive conditions. Id. Lawrence alleges that when the Dauphin County Prison is overcrowded, the Prison and Prison Staff do not exercise inmates, do not allow the inmates out of their cells, do not allow the inmates to exercise, and do ...

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