United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
PARADISE BAXTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Relevant Procedural History
December 21, 2016, Plaintiff Trevor Mattis, an inmate
incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest
in Marienville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Forest"),
initiated this civil rights action by filing a pro
se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as
Defendants are the Department of Corrections
("DOC"), DOC Secretary John Wetzel
("Wetzel"), and the following individuals who were
either staff members or medical personnel at SCI-Forest at
all times relevant to the claims in this case: Superintendent
M. Overmyer ("Overmyer"); Unit Manager Gustafson
(incorrectly identified by Plaintiff as
"Gustafason") ("Gustafson"); Counselor
Cummins ("Cummins"); Unit Manager Best
("Best"); Sergeant Mealy ("Mealy"); Dr.
Hasper ("Hasper"); Ms. Kennedy
("Kennedy"); Ms. Sheesley ("Sheesley");
K. Smith ("Smith"); Sergeant Anthony
("Anthony"); Sgt. Gilara ("Gilara"); Unit
Manager Blicha ("Blicha"); C.O. Small
("Small"); and Nursing Practitioner McNeely
("McNeely"). For ease of reference, all Defendants
other than Defendants Hasper and McNeely will be collectively
referred to as "DOC Defendants."
alleges multiple claims against one or more of the
Defendants, based on alleged violations of his constitutional
rights and/or his rights under Title II of the Americans with
Disability Act ("ADA"), and Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act ("Rehab Act"). In addition,
Plaintiff alleges a state tort claim of intentional
infliction of emotional distress. In particular, Plaintiff
identifies the following claims:
1. A claim against Defendant DOC for failure to train unit
managers and counselors to make appropriate housing
determinations for inmates (ECF No. 3, Complaint, at ¶
2. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant McNeely for
failure to diagnose Plaintiff's "flat feet
condition" and recommending that he be allowed to wear
boots to the yard for morning exercise (Id. at
¶¶ 162-164, 177-182, 220);
3. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Overmyer for
"forcing" Plaintiff to wear "skippies" to
the yard (Id. at ¶¶ 162-164, 177-182,
4. A Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendant Gilara for
confiscating Plaintiff's eyeglass strap (Id. at
¶¶ 199, 222);
5. A First Amendment access to courts claim against Defendant
Gilara arising from the confiscation of Plaintiff's legal
materials (Id. at ¶¶ 200-201, 223);
6. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant McNeely
arising from her refusal to recommend the return of
Plaintiff's eyeglass strap (Id. at ¶¶
7. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Blicha for
refusing to allow Plaintiff to retain a cup in his cell
(Id. at ¶¶ 204-206, 225);
8. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Small for
exposing Plaintiff to O/C spray (Id. at ¶¶
9. Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment due process claims against
Defendants Overmyer, Gustafson, Cummins, Hasper, and Kennedy
for removing Plaintiff's Z-code and forcing him to take a
cellmate (Id. at ¶¶ 13-128, 229);
10. A Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against
Defendant Small for allegedly stealing and/or destroying
Plaintiff's creative materials (Id. at
¶¶ 194, 212, 227);
11. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Wetzel for
failing to prevent alleged abuses at SCI-Forest (Id.
at ¶¶ 211, 228);
12. ADA and Rehab Act claims against Defendants DOC,
Overmyer, and Smith for failing to make reasonable
accommodations for Plaintiff's PTSD condition
(Id. at ¶¶ 150-151, 230);
13. A Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against
Defendants Overmyer, Gustafson, and Cummins related to the
denial of Plaintiff's Z-code status (Id. at
¶¶ 13-128, 231);
14. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Hasper,
Simons, Cowen, Sheesley, and Kennedy for recommending removal
of Plaintiff's Z-code (Id. at ¶¶
39-44, 76-82, 209, 232);
15. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Best, Mealy,
and Anthony for requiring Plaintiff to take a cellmate
(Id. at ¶¶ 104-128, 233);
16. A claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress
against Defendants Gustafson, Cummins, Best, and Anthony for
"orchestrating a violent confrontation with other
inmates" (Id. at ¶¶ 76-128, 234);
17. A Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against
Defendants Overmyer, Best, and Cummins arising from their
recommendation that Plaintiff be placed on the RRL while
other similarly situated inmates were not (Id. at
¶¶ 152, 196-198, 236);
18. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Overmyer and
Blicha for placing Plaintiff in solitary confinement in
"cold" conditions for over four weeks (Id.
at ¶¶ 237 and 237(b));
19. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants McNeely and
Smith for failing to provide Plaintiff with medical treatment
(Id. at ¶ 238); and
20. An Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Overmyer for
allowing and condoning "the harassment and abuse of
Plaintiff by RHU prison officials (Id. at
¶¶ 125-218, 239).
30, 2017, Defendant Hasper filed a motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint [ECF No. 31] arguing, inter
alia, that Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted against him. Plaintiff
filed a response in opposition to Defendant Hasper's
motion on June 8, 2017 [ECF No. 40]. On July 11, 2017, the
DOC Defendants filed their own motion to dismiss [ECF No.
47], also arguing, inter alia, that Plaintiff has
failed to state a cause of action upon which relief may be
granted against them. Plaintiff has since filed a response in
opposition to this motion [ECF No. 50]. This matter is now
ripe for consideration.
Relevant Factual History
alleges that, in 1992, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder ("PTSD") and assigned Z-code
status, which kept him from being celled with another inmate.
(ECF No. 3, Complaint, at ¶ 13). According to Plaintiff,
his PTSD condition causes him to become anxious,
"extremely paranoid, " and violent when another
inmate is celled with him. (Id. at ¶¶ 15,
17). In addition, Plaintiff alleges that he cannot sleep,
concentrate, or function in a normal manner, and suffers
debilitating headaches, in the presence of another inmate.
(Id. at ¶ 16).
2015, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Cummins for his annual
review, at which time Defendant Cummins asked Plaintiff to
explain his Z-code status. (Id. at ¶ 23).
Plaintiff explained that he was previously assaulted by a
cellmate while he was sleeping, and had experienced other
violent encounters with cellmates, that made him "rather
dysfunctional and volatile if another inmate is in the cell
with him." (Id. at ¶ 28). As a result,
Plaintiff informed Defendant Cummins that if his Z-code was
removed and he was forced to have a cellmate, "there
would be big problems." (Id. at ¶ 29).
Plaintiff and Defendant Cummins were subsequently joined by
Defendant Gustafson, who allegedly told Plaintiff that he
didn't see a reason why Plaintiff should have a Z-code
and that he was "going to take it." (Id.
at ¶ 32). Plaintiff responded that if he was forced to
take a cellmate, he would stab the cellmate as many times as
he could; however, both Defendants Cummins and Gustafson
allegedly voiced their lack of concern. (Id. at
29, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by the Psychological Review Team
("PRT"), consisting of, among others, Defendants
Cummins, Gustafson, and Kennedy. (Id. at ¶ 39).
Defendant Kennedy allegedly asked Plaintiff how he felt about
taking a cellmate, to which Plaintiff responded that he
couldn't take a cellmate because of his serious anxiety
issues. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-42). Defendant
Kennedy then postponed the PRT review pending a psychiatric
evaluation of Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 43).
November 18, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Hasper, at
which time he recounted many violent incidents he had
encountered during his incarceration and the mental health
symptoms he suffered as a result. (Id. at
¶¶ 49-59). Defendant Hasper allegedly asked if
Plaintiff would like medication to help his insomnia, but
Plaintiff refused, citing an aversion to psychotropic
medications. (Id. at ¶¶ 61-63). Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Hasper then told him that he
"definitely need[ed] to be housed by [him]self."
(Id. at ¶ 67). Plaintiff saw Defendant Hasper
again on December 18, 2015, and reported that his panic
attacks were becoming more severe and he was beginning to
experience "daily spontaneous diarrhetic [sic] bowel
movement." (Id. at ¶ 70). Defendant Hasper
allegedly informed Plaintiff that his PTSD symptoms were
getting worse and again suggested psychotropic medications,
which were refused by Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 71).
February 8, 2016, Plaintiff went to the medical department
for a follow-up visit with Defendant Hasper, and was made to
wait while Defendant Cummins entered Defendant Hasper's
office and exited five minutes later. (Id. at
¶¶ 83-85). Plaintiff alleges that, unlike previous
visits, Defendant Hasper's demeanor was "cold and
distanced, " while he encouraged Plaintiff to work with
his counselor. (Id. at ¶¶ 85-90).
February 18, 2016, Defendants Cummins and Gustafson informed
Plaintiff that his Z-code was being removed and that he had
thirty days to find a cellmate. (Id. at ¶¶
94-95). Plaintiff alleges that he "began to suffer
pounding headaches, experienced severe panic attacks and
could hardly sleep at night." (Id. at ¶
102). Around the second week of March, Defendant Best asked
Plaintiff if he had found a cellmate yet, to which Plaintiff
reiterated his concerns about being celled with another
inmate; nevertheless, Plaintiff was told that he had a week
to find a cellmate. (Id. at ¶¶ 104-108).
March 21, 2016, Plaintiff was seen at sick call for high
blood pressure and rapid weight loss. Plaintiff's blood
pressure medication was changed and blood pressure readings
were ordered to be taken three times per week for four weeks.
(Id. at ¶¶ 109-110). The next day,
Defendant Best told Plaintiff he was getting a cellmate, who
Plaintiff alleges was a "notorious gang member"
named "Richardson aka Hell Boy, " but Richardson
allegedly refused to be celled with Plaintiff. (Id.
at ¶¶ 112-115). Then, on March 26, 2016, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Mealy attempted to have Plaintiff
celled with a Bloods gang member, but was allegedly dissuaded
from doing so by other gang members. (Id. at
March 28, 2016, Defendant Mealy allegedly asked Plaintiff
what he would do if he was celled with another inmate and
Plaintiff responded that he would "hurt them before they
hurt me from the door, no ifs ands or buts."
(Id. at ¶¶ 118-119), Nevertheless, while
"dozing off in his cell" on March 30, 2016,
Plaintiff saw his cell door opening and a "strange
inmate" entering his cell, which allegedly caused
Plaintiff to "snap" and attack the inmate.
(Id. at ¶¶ 121-122). During the ensuing
melee, Plaintiff received a "stunning blow to the back
of his head" and a sprained right wrist, while the other
inmate suffered serious injuries. (Id. at ¶
123). Plaintiff was handcuffed and taken to the RHU, at which
time he allegedly heard Defendant Mealy lamenting that he was
forced to put someone in Plaintiff's cell.
(Id.). After Plaintiff was processed at the RHU,
Defendant Anthony attempted to place him in a cell with
another inmate, but Plaintiff refused and was issued a
misconduct. He was then taken to a different pod and placed
in a single cell. (Id. at ¶¶ 125-128).
March 31, 2016, Plaintiff woke with a throbbing headache,
couldn't flex his right wrist, felt sharp pain in his
lower back, and had a swollen left knee that hindered his
ability to walk. (Id. at ¶¶ 129-130).
Plaintiff submitted a sick call request and subsequently
complained about his injuries to all of the nurses who came
to his cell; however, his complaints were allegedly ignored.
(Id. at ¶¶ 131-133). On or about April 3,
2016, Plaintiff allegedly blacked out and fell, hitting the
right side of his head and lacerating his right forearm and
left triceps. (Id. at ¶ 134). Plaintiff
complained to a nurse about his new injuries and was told to
fill out a sick call slip. (Id. at ¶ 136).
April 21, 2016, after not being seen by medical staff for
weeks, Plaintiff filed a grievance alleging cruel and unusual
punishment. At that time, Plaintiff was allegedly suffering
from "excessively dry skin" that left "black
scabs" and "micro cracks" on his arms, and
deeper cracks in the webbing between his fingers.
(Id. at ¶¶ 147-149). Plaintiff was
ultimately seen at sick call on May 5, 2016, but the doctor
was rushed and walked away before Plaintiff was able to raise
all of his medical issues. (Id. at ¶ 154).
Thus, Plaintiff submitted another sick call request on May 6,
2016, but, by that time, most of his injuries had resolved on
their own. (Id. at ¶ 155).
8, 2016, Defendant Overmyer allegedly went to Plaintiff's
cell and told him that he would "never get out of the
RHU again, " which Plaintiff understood as a
"direct threat to his wellbeing." (Id. at
12, 2016, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Hasper, who
allegedly told Plaintiff that he wasn't there to give him
a Z-code, and then assessed Plaintiff with anti-social
personality disorder." (Id. at ¶ 189). On
July 16, 2016, Plaintiff's cell was "ransacked"
by prison officials, at which time Defendant Small allegedly
stole and/or destroyed Plaintiff's legal materials and
creative works (i.e. poems, screenplays, and songs), and then
forced Plaintiff to "stand exposed to the full effects
of O/C pepper spray for over 20 minutes." (Id.
at ¶¶ 190-193).
August 26, 2016, Plaintiff was seen by the Program Review
Committee ("PRC"), comprised of Defendants
Overmyer, Best, and Cummins, and was informed that he was
being placed on administrative custody ("A/C")
status pending a review for placement on the Restricted
Release List ("RRL") because he was considered a
threat to other inmates. (Id. at ¶ 198). On the
same date, Defendant Gilara confiscated Plaintiff's
eyeglass strap, one box of legal materials, and all of
Plaintiff's pens. (Id. at ¶¶ 199-200).
around September 2016, Defendant Blicha refused to allow
Plaintiff to retain a cup in his cell, thus requiring
Plaintiff to sip water from the water faucet. (Id.
at ¶ 204). Plaintiff alleges that he wrote over four
letters to Defendant Wetzel in August and September 2016
detailing "the abuses and harassments SCI-Forest prison
officials were subjecting him to, " but received no
response. (Id. at ¶ 211).
November 21, 2016, Plaintiff was moved to an isolated cell at
the direction of Defendant Blicha, where he was allegedly
subject to inhumane and intolerably cold conditions ...