United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
FLOYD E. PATTERSON, JR.
JANINE L. QUIGLEY, et al.
R. Sánchez, J.
Plaintiff Floyd E. Patterson, Jr., an inmate in the State
Correctional Institute at Somerset brings claims pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Warden Janine L.
Quigley, Lieutenant Miguel Castro, and Correctional Officers
Cunningham, Dew, and Gurry for constitutional violations that
occurred while he was incarcerated at Berks County
Jail. Warden Quigley and Lieutenant Castro
(Administrative Defendants) and Correctional Officers
Cunningham, Dew, and Gurry (Correctional Officer Defendants)
move separately to dismiss Patterson's Amended Complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the
reasons set forth below, both Administrative Defendants'
and Correctional Officer Defendants' motions to dismiss
will be granted in part and denied in part.
asserts various constitutional violations that occurred while
he was incarcerated at Berks County Jail (Berks) between
February 14, 2014, and July 28, 2015.
a Muslim, alleges he was prevented from exercising his right
to practice his religion. At Berks, Special Operations Group
(SOG) personnel, including Officer Gurry, were present with
firearms during religious Muslim services and prevented
inmates from shaking hands or exchanging religious greetings.
When Patterson brought a grievance challenging this
limitation, Lieutenant Castro refused to entertain it. He
informed Patterson that any talking during service must be
within the context of the service, and SOG could threaten to
remove inmates who talked outside the context of the service.
Am. Compl. 4. On two or three occasions after he was removed
from religious service, he was prevented from attending
weekly prayer services for up to a month at a time.
Additionally, when he signed up to attend services, he was
prevented from going because his name was left off of a
separate list-which documented the names of inmates who were
allowed to leave the block-that was on one occasion
controlled by Officer Dew. Id. at 5. Finally, the
presence of guns during service prevented him from focusing
Berks, Patterson was also subject to unnecessary strip
searches on many occasions. Id. at 6. During these
“various and plentiful strip searches, ” Officer
Cunningham made “cruel jokes that end[ed] up leading to
sexual and cruel request[s], ” including “being
forced to jerk [Officer Cunningham] off.” Id.
Officer Cunningham threatened to assault Patterson, or have
him charged with assault, if he did not do as he was told.
Officer Cunningham also told him about his “connections
to other jails and state prisons so that [Patterson] would
not speak out about the events that transpired.”
Id. at 7. Patterson initially stayed quiet, but he
later “secretively” sought treatment from the
Medical/Psych Department in May 2014. Id. In June
2014, he reached out to Warden Quigley, who pushed his
complaints and issues “under the rug.”
addition, Patterson was subject to a variety of poor living
conditions while he was at Berks. The living conditions were
unsanitary because they were “totally infested”
with black mold, to the point where some jail cells had three
out of four walls covered with mold. Id. at 10.
Patterson was forced to eat, sleep, and live within arm's
reach of his toilet. Additionally, when he was sent to
solitary confinement for fighting, he was forced to eat food
loaf for a total of 20-25 days, even though the use of food
loaf as punishment was generally reserved for inmates with a
history of food-related problems.
had a variety of physical injuries ignored or not taken
seriously by Berks personnel. His medication was switched and
canceled. He was required to fill out a
“sick-call” slip, even when he was experiencing a
medical emergency, such as chest pain or an anxiety attack.
He was not given proper medical treatment after he injured
his hand and ankle during recreation hour, and he was unable
to review the x-ray results of his hand. Id. at 9,
to the policy of Lietenant Castro's Administrative
Department, he was also subject to “unit-actions,
” disciplinary actions taken for violations of
“living unit rules.” These disciplinary actions
took place without a hearing to determine guilt or innocence.
made numerous complaints to jail officials. Because he filed
these grievances, he was retaliated against. Specifically, at
least one of his grievances was returned with male genitalia
drawn on it; when he informed Warden Quigley about his
vandalized grievance, she declined to take any action because
of a lack of evidence. Through the month of July and August
2014, Officers Dew and Gurry searched his cell block eleven
times, and on one occasion, they stole one of his books.
Retaliation against him also included losing his job, being
harassed and assaulted by Berks personnel, getting poor
medical treatment, having his medical documents withheld, and
generally being in danger.
on the foregoing, Patterson filed the instant action on April
4, 2016, against the Administrative Defendants and several
commissioners from Berks County. He then filed an Amended
Complaint on June 6, 2017, dropping his claims against the
commissioners, retaining his claims against the
Administrative Defendants, and asserting new claims against
the Correctional Officer Defendants. In his Amended Complaint,
Patterson alleges violations of his First, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also alleges Defendants
generally violated his civil rights by forcing him to live in
unsafe conditions, subjecting him to sexual harassment,
depriving him of proper medical attention, and retaliating
against him for complaining about the violation of his
rights. See Am. Compl. 3. Administrative Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss on June 20, 2017, to which
Patterson responded on August 10, 2017. Correctional Officer
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on August 15, 2017, to
which Patterson failed to respond.
withstand dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the
facts pleaded “allow the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. Where, as here, the plaintiff is
proceeding pro se, the Court must construe the complaint
liberally, accept as true all well-pleaded factual
allegations therein, and draw all reasonable inferences in
the plaintiff's favor. See Pearson v. Sec'y
Dep't of Corr., 775 F.3d 598, 604 (3d Cir. 2015).
brings this action pursuant to § 1983, which
“provides a cause of action against ‘every person
who, ' under color of state law, ‘subjects, or
causes to be subjected, ' another person to a deprivation
of a federally protected right.” Barkes v. First
Corr. Med., Inc., 766 F.3d 307, 316 (3d Cir. 2014)
(quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983), rev'd on other
grounds sub nom. Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042
(2015). To be liable under § 1983, a defendant
“must have personal involvement in the alleged wrongs;
liability cannot be predicated solely on the operation of
respondeat superior.” Rode v. Dellarciprete,
845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988). If a plaintiff seeks to
hold a supervisor liable for acts undertaken by subordinates,
liability may attach only if the supervisor (1)
“‘participated in violating the plaintiff's
rights, directed others to violate them, or, as the person in
charge, had knowledge of and acquiesced' ...