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Davis v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 18, 2018

ANGELO L. DAVIS, Plaintiff,

          CONNER, C.J.



         This is a prisoner civil rights action, which was commenced on March 25, 2016, by the filing of the original pro se complaint in this matter, signed and dated by the plaintiff, Angelo L. Davis, on March 21, 2016. (Doc. 1). At the time of filing, Davis was no longer incarcerated. His claims, however, concern the conditions of his confinement at SCI Camp Hill, which is located in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Davis has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. (Doc. 8).

         The plaintiffs pro se amended complaint was filed with leave of Court on December 20, 2017. (Doc. 68). The defendants have filed an answer to the amended complaint. (Doc. 87).

         This matter now comes before the Court on a Rule 37 motion to compel by the pro se plaintiff, which is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. (Doc. 72; see also Doc. 81; Doc. 86; Doc. 93; Doc. 94). We will first summarize the nature of the plaintiffs various civil rights claims, and then address each of the discovery deficiencies raised by the plaintiff seriatim. For the reasons stated herein, the plaintiffs motion will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         A. The Plaintiffs Claims

         Davis claims that the several defendants[1] violated his federal civil rights while he was incarcerated at SCI Camp Hill. Davis claims that the defendants violated his First Amendment right of access to courts, his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, his Thirteenth Amendment right to be free from slavery or involuntary servitude, and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.

         In his complaint, Davis alleges that he was transferred to SCI Camp Hill from SCI Greene on October 3, 2013. Davis alleges that he arrived at SCI Camp Hill with two boxes of personal property, and he soon received four additional boxes of property that had been separately shipped from SCI Greene to SCI Camp Hill. It is not entirely clear from the allegations of the complaint, but it appears that some or all of these boxes of personal property were stored in the SCI Camp Hill property warehouse until November 1, 2013. Upon his transfer into SCI Camp Hill, Davis alleges that Unit Manager Digby denied him "outside cle[a]rance, R-Code, Parole, and a lot of other [unspecified] prison opportunities without justification."

         Davis further alleges that CO Cubic conducted a shakedown search of Davis's cell on October 13, 2014, and issued Davis a misconduct (#B212895) for possession of contraband, lying to an employee, loaning and borrowing property, and failure to report contraband. Davis alleges that CO Cubic confiscated the following property from Davis's cell, which he shared with a cell-mate: two GPX-brand radios, two state IDs, two mirrors, two toothbrushes, two cups, four pens, two lighters, a television set with Davis's name and inmate number (GY73O4) on it, and a plastic kitchen knife. CO Cubic was allegedly searching for K-2 synthetic marijuana, but found none. Davis appealed the misconduct to final administrative review, but his appeals were denied.

         A few days earlier, on October 9, 2014, a similar shakedown search had been conducted on the same block. While property was confiscated from other inmates, none of those inmates received a misconduct like Davis did, and all of the property was eventually returned to those inmates. Davis had also been through other shakedown searches previously, with the same property, and he had never before been written up for possession of contraband.

         On October 15, 2014, Davis appeared before a hearing examiner who allegedly stated that he believed the misconduct charges to be "frivolous" but found Davis guilty nevertheless. Davis alleges that he was denied due process during these misconduct proceedings because he did not receive copies of property confiscation slips until after the hearing. As a result, Davis alleges a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, his First Amendment right of access-to-courts, and his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Davis further alleges that all of his confiscated property was destroyed, and that this was also a deprivation of due process.

         As a result of the misconduct proceedings, Davis alleges that he was confined to the restricted housing unit (the "RHU"), which was unfit for human habitation due to unsanitary conditions and broken plumbing fixtures. Moreover, Davis alleges that he was denied a hernia belt and other medical attention while he was incarcerated in the RHU.

         Davis appears to allege that Deputy Superintendent Meintel violated his due process rights by failing to timely respond to Davis's misconduct appeal. Davis appears to allege that Superintendent Harry violated his due process rights by upholding the misconduct decisions on appeal. For reasons that are not altogether clear from the complaint, Davis also appears to seek to hold Meintel, Digby, CO Hughley, and CO Huber liable for forcing him to go through and pack all of his personal property into four boxes over a three-day period, beginning on November 3, 2014.

         Davis seeks an award of $75, 000 in damages from each defendant.

         B. The Plaintiffs Discovery Requests

         1. Request No. 4: Transfer Petition and Vote Sheet

         In Document Request No. 4, Davis seeks production of the transfer petition for his move from SCI Greene to SCI Camp Hill, and a related "DC-46" vote sheet. The defendants have objected to production on the grounds that: (a) the plaintiff has no legal claim related to the transfer itself; and (b) because the information contained in responsive materials is confidential and production could jeopardize the safety and security of inmates and staff.

         Davis appears to argue that the transfer petition will establish that he was transferred from SCI Greene to SCI Camp Hill to "sabotage" or interfere with his access to courts in another, unrelated federal civil rights action. He further argues that the transfer violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights because it was not supported by the proper documentation.[2]

         The defendants' objection is well founded. The plaintiffs complaint includes neither an access-to-courts claim nor a due process claim with respect to his transfer from SCI Greene, [3] and there are no allegations in the complaint to implicate any of the defendants presently before this Court in this action in Davis's transfer out of SCI Greene. Moreover, prison inmates have no right to due process before transfer to a less desirable prison and no right to ...

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