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Cameron v. Swartz

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 29, 2018



          Lisa Pupo Lenihan, United States Magistrate Judge


         In this civil action, Plaintiff is an inmate in custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff brings claims against Defendants, who are personnel at State Correctional Institution ("SCI") Greene, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; he also appears to assert a common law negligence claim. Plaintiffs constitutional claims are premised on alleged violations of the 8th Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. His Amended Complaint describes a scenario in which he was denied a lower bunk assignment, despite having a valid cane pass and lower bunk/lower tier ("LB/LT") status. He avers that he suffered injury as a result, when he fell from a top bunk.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion will be granted, and Plaintiffs Amended Complaint dismissed, without prejudice.


         Plaintiff initiated this action by Complaint against the PA Department of Corrections, SCI Greene, on June 20, 2017. [ECF No. 7]. By Memorandum Order dated August 15, 2017 ("August 15 Order") [ECF No. 13], the Court sua sponte advised Plaintiff that the Complaint failed to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and directed him to amend his pleading.

         The August 15 Order specified, inter alia, as follows:

Plaintiff should clearly describe how each named defendant is involved in the alleged constitutional violation(s).. ..It should explain to the Court what happened by specifically describing each defendant's behavior or action and how that behavior or action - or lack of action - resulted in the alleged violations...Plaintiff should be specific about the particulars of the event, each defendant's misconduct, and how such misconduct resulted in a violation or denial of the civil right at issue.

August 15 Order, p. 3 (emphases in original).

         Plaintiff then filed the now-pending Amended Complaint. [ECF No. 14]. The Amended Complaint identifies the following Defendants, sued in their individual and official capacities: Carla Swartz, E Unit Manager; Robert D. Gilmore, Facility Manager; Kyle Guth, Health Care Administrator; and Mr. Christinni, Counselor.

         Plaintiffs Amended Complaint avers that he has had a cane pass since May 26, 2014, which was issued at SCI Camp Hill and never cancelled; Plaintiff never returned his cane. He further avers that he has had lower bunk/lower tier ("LB/LT") status since August 21, 2014, due to various medical conditions. He avers that "the unit management team, " including Defendant Swartz, Defendant Christinni, and non-party Sacks, were all aware of his lower bunk/lower tier ("LB/LT") status. Nonetheless, at SCI Greene, more than once and while housed in various units, Plaintiff was assigned to a top bunk. Leading up to the incident giving rise to this litigation, Plaintiff was released from self-lockup without his cane, although he still had a valid cane pass. On June 30, 2016, Plaintiff was released to EA unit. While in the E unit, he told two non-parties to this action, Sgt. Bowlin and C/O Stickly, about his LB/LT status, and showed them his cane pass; they returned him to H block. Then, on July 7, 2016, Plaintiff was moved back to EA unit. Bowlin "supposedly" had called the medical department, and on July 7, 2016, told Plaintiff that he did not have LB/LT status. Plaintiff was thereafter assigned to a top bunk, and was told that he must comply or receive a misconduct. It appears that at that time, C/O Stickley attempted unsuccessfully to retrieve Plaintiffs cane from his prior unit.

         On July 12, 2016, Defendant Swartz noted on her reply to Plaintiffs grievance that Dr. Santos of the medical department had "reinstated" or "renewed" Plaintiffs LB/LT status. The precise parameters of Plaintiff s grievance, to which Defendant Swartz's response related, are unclear. Thereafter, Plaintiff remained in a top bunk. He asserts that on July 28, 2016, while in the EA Unit, he fell from the top bunk, became unconscious, and sustained head and spinal injuries. The structure of Plaintiff s allegations, while not clear, suggests that he filed a grievance based on the incident.

         In sum, the kernel of Plaintiff s Amended Complaint rests on his allegation that from July 12, 2016 to July 28, 2016, "everybody" was aware of his LB/LT status yet denied him appropriate bunk placement. This circumstance, he alleges, violated his constitutional rights and resulted in physical injury.

         Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [ECF No. 19]. Plaintiff has filed a Brief in opposition to the Motion. [ECF No. 22]. In the caption to Plaintiffs Brief in opposition, Sgt. Bowlin is listed as a Defendant. Moreover, the Brief identifies ...

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