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Talley v. Harper

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 11, 2017

MR. ORLANDO H. HARPER, et al, Defendants.



         Presently pending before the Court for disposition is the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 124) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint filed by Defendant officials and correction officers at the Allegheny County Jail (“ACJ”). Plaintiff has filed a Response in opposition (ECF No. 129). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, Antron Talley (“Plaintiff” or “Talley”) is a pro se inmate who has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Although currently housed at the SCI Forest, the alleged incidents giving rise to this lawsuit, occurred when Talley was previously housed at ACJ.[2]Defendant movants herein are ACJ Warden Orlando Harper, then-Deputy Warden Emerick, now-deputy Warden Wainwright, Correctional Officers Rubble, Raible, Arlotta, Mazzocca, Brojovich, Zoller, Butler, and the Correction's Emergency Response Team (“CERT Team”) (collectively, “County Defendants”).[3]

         The claims in the Amended Complaint relate to an approximate eight-month period from December 19, 2013, through August 2014.

         In the Amended Complaint Talley alleges he was assaulted without justification and injured after an altercation[4] with a corrections officer Arlottta on December 19, 2013. (ECF No. 112, para. 20). The alleged injuries from that altercation included fractured left thumb, fractured jaw that also caused temporomandibular joint syndrome (“TMJ”), an injured right knee, along with mental and emotional injuries. (ECF No. 112 at para. 20). Defendant Arlotta does not move to dismiss the claims of excessive force arising out of the December 19, 2013 incident. (ECF No. 124 at 2).

         Following that altercation, Talley was transferred to the Disciplinary Housing Unit (DHU). He then was “refused meals” and thus pretended to be suicidal so he could be transferred to the Mental Health Unit (“MHU”), also known as pod 5C, where inmates with mental problems are housed. (ECF No. 112, para. 21). While there, Talley alleges that Defendant Corrections Officer Brosovich refused to provide him showers and fed him bag meals, which caused Talley to lose a “tremendous amount of weight that was not healthy to lose, and developed sores in his crotch area due to not receiving a shower.” (ECF No. 112 at para. 21). Mr. Talley remained on this pod until January 28, 2014, when he was transferred back to the DHU. (ECF No. 112, para. 21).

         He then returned to pod 8E on January 28, 2014, had a hearing in front of the program review committee and was found guilty of assaulting a corrections officer. (ECF No. 112, para. 23). Defendant Warden Harper and Deputy Warden Emerick conducted this hearing to determine whether Talley should continue to be held in the DHU. Talley makes general allegations that he was denied proper procedural due process by Harper and Emerick and that he was placed in administrative custody without cause. (ECF No. 112 at para. 23). He remains in administrative custody to this day. (ECF No. 112 at para. 23).

         During the time that he was in the DHU and the MHU, he was dissatisfied with his food, the conditions of his confinement, particularly denial of showers, his medical care and he claims he was sprayed with pepper spray.

         Talley further alleges that normally inmates are permitted to shower three days per week, but that Officer Zoller, who controlled showers, would not permit Talley to shower; Talley did not shower from January 28, 2014 to February 27, 2014 (in addition to lack of showers while in the other unit). (ECF No. 112 at para. 24). He further alleges that Zoller should be held accountable for the conditions of his cell, specifically, that it had mold, was cold, and that he was only given one sheet and one blanket, and that such conditions caused his crotch sores to get worse. (ECF No. 112 at para. 24).

         On June 18, 2014, Talley was involved in another altercation with a corrections officer and was placed on pod 5C (MHU) until July 11, 2014. (ECF No. 112, paras. 26-28). Talley alleges that once returned to pod 5C from the DHU, Brojovich placed him on “loaf” meals (whereby daily food is compressed into a loaf shape) for six days, which he alleges included 6 day old food rather than fresh food, in retaliation for Talley throwing juice at Correction Officer Mazzocca. (ECF No. 112 at para 27). Talley alleges that Mazzocca poured juice into Talley's cup and threw the rest of the juice through the cell door, causing Talley to slip and bruise his hip. (ECF No. 112 at para. 26). Talley also alleges that from June 18, 2014 through July 11, 2014 he was placed in an unsanitary cell which had feces around the toilet, urine on the floor, bunk which had been rusted from urine and no mattress on the bunk. (ECF No. 112 at 28).

         Brojovich is further alleged to have been present when defendant Carla Ivan, a medical provider, gave him three shots against his will. (ECF No. 112 at para. 22). He thought the cell was unsanitary and he did not receive soap, rags, toothpaste or a toothbrush as such items are not handed out in the pod. (ECF No. 112, para. 28).

         As to Defendant Rubble, Talley alleges that on August 19, 2014, Rubble emptied a can of pepper spray toward Talley, after Talley was told he had to move his cell. (ECF No. 112 at 29). As noted earlier, Defendant Rubble does not request dismissal of this claim. In addition, however, as to Defendant Butler, Talley alleges that after he was sprayed with pepper spray, Butler refused Talley's request for a shower even though Butler saw the orange foam marks, smelled the aroma, and knew how the spray would affect him. (ECF No. 112 at para. 30). Talley alleges he suffered scabs on his skin where the spray landed due to the lack of shower.

         Talley further alleges that on August 31, 2014, Defendant Sergeant Raible fabricated that Talley had barricaded himself in his cell and called the Correction Emergency Response (CERT) team to extract him, and that during this incident the team, under Raible's command, used excess force in strapping him to a bunk, which caused Talley to suffer a broken wrist and ankle swelling. (ECF No. 112 at 31). The identities of the members of the CERT Team appears to be unknown; Talley alleges they wear masks to hide their identity

         Talley also alleges that Defendant Harper and Emerick intentionally denied him access to medical treatment, as described supra, and due to their denial of constitutional protections he was unfairly placed in solitary confinement, which rises to the level of cruel and unusual punishment.

         II. ...

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