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Washington v. Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 13, 2018




         On October 19, 2017, Plaintiff Kemico Antonio Washington, an inmate currently incarcerated at SCI Frackville, filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of himself as well as "Prisoners United Together." Washington named as Defendants the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System, City of Philadelphia, Mayor Kenney, the Philadelphia Sheriffs Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, P.P.S. CFCF County Prison, Corizon, Warden May, Lieutenant McCallister, Officer Cujdic, Officer Conway, Detective Girardo, Hahneman University Hospital, 20th E Pennsylvania Central Detectives Building, and the D.O.C. He also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.

         By Order entered on May 15, 2018, the Court granted Washington leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dismissed Prisoners United Together as a party, and dismissed the Complaint. (ECF No. 4.) Specifically, the Court noted:

Washington cannot maintain his claims against several of the named defendants. To the extent that the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System is an actual entity, it and the D.O.C. are not people for purposes of § 1983. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65-66 (1989) (noting that a state may not be sued in federal court pursuant to § 1983); Lavia v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 224 F.3d 190, 195 (3d Cir. 2000) (noting that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections "shares in the Commonwealth's Eleventh Amendment immunity"). Washington has not stated a claim against the City of Philadelphia because he has not alleged that the violation of his constitutional rights stemmed from a municipal policy or custom. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978) (local governments are not liable under § 1983 "for an injury inflicted solely by [their] employees or agents, " but are liable if a municipal custom or policy caused the plaintiffs injury). Nothing in Washington's Complaint plausibly suggests that Mayor Kenney had any personal involvement in the alleged use of excessive force against Washington and the alleged denial of medical care at CFCF. See Barkes v. First Corr. Med., Inc., 166 F.3d 307, 320 (3d Cir. 2014), reversed on other grounds, Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042 (2015). The Philadelphia Sheriffs Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Prison System are "not legal entit[ies] but instead [are] departments] of the City of Philadelphia and therefore are not "people" for purposes of § 1983. Burgos v. Phila. Prison System, 760 F.Supp.2d 502, 503 n.l (E.D. Pa. 2011). Washington also cannot assert claims against CFCF, as "it is well-settled that a prison or correctional facility is not a 'person' that is subject to suit under federal civil rights laws." Regan v. Upper Darby Twp., Civ. A. No. 06-1686, 2009 WL 650384, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2009). Moreover, Washington's Complaint is devoid of any facts suggesting that Hahnemann University Hospital is a state actor for purposes of § 1983. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (noting that "[t]o state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law"). Finally, the 20th E Pennsylvania Central Detectives Building is not a person that can be sued under § 1983. See Shipley v. Delaware Cty. Tax Claim Bureau, No. 13-7398, 2015 WL 2208521, at *6 (E.D. Pa. May 12, 2015). Moreover, while Washington has named Corizon, Warden May, and Lt. McCallister as defendants, he has failed to allege how they were personally involved in the alleged deprivation of his rights. See Barkes, 766 F.3d at 320.

(Id. at 3-4.) The Court provided leave for Washington to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days. (Id. at 4.)

         The Court received Washington's Amended Complaint on June 4, 2018, naming the following individuals and entities as defendants: (1) Philadelphia Police Department; (2) Officer Cujdik; (3) Officer Conway; (4) Detective Federick Girardo; (5) Hahnemann University Hospital; (6) Akosua D. Nuamah CRNP; (7) Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"); (8) Medical Dept; (9) RN Kak; (10) MD Jane Doe; (11) Lt. McCallister; (12) Warden May; (13) Phila Sheriffs Dept; (14) Sgt. Jane Doe; (15) Sgt. John Doe; and (16) Deputy Sheriff John Doe. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss Washington's claims against all Defendants except Officers Cujdik and Conway, and allow him to proceed at this time with his claims against those officers.

         I. FACTS

         On April 25, 2016, shortly after 1:00 p.m., Washington was "walking with [his] bike up hill off of Broad & Girard Ave in North Philadelphia." (Am. Compl. at 18.)[1] He was wearing a Seattle Seahawks hat, a Chicago Bears football jersey, blue jeans, and Timberland boots. (Id.) As Washington was walking towards his aunt's house, Officer Cujdik stopped him and asked him where he got his hat and jersey. (Id.) Washington replied that they were a gift and asked if there was a problem. (Id.) Officer Cujdik said '"Nothing really [there] were a string of break ins that were happening a month ago & the person that we are looking for was wearing a football jersey & baseball cap and I feel that my superiors at CDD would like to talk to you."' (Id.) Washington asked if he was under arrest and the officer responded that he was not. (Id.) Washington told the officer that he "ha[d] something to do right now" and to "have a nice afternoon." (Id.)

         Washington began walking away. (Id.) Two and a half blocks later, he was "pick[ed] up from behind & [he] was in the air & [his] bike fell to the ground." (Id.) His whole body was then "slammed viciously to the [concrete] on [his] right side from head to toe." (Id.) Officer Cujdik held Washington's neck down with his knee, and Washington heard a "crack inside of [his] neck." (Id.) During this, Officer Conway was punching Washington in the back. (Id.) Officer Cujdik then handcuffed Washington, "making [his] arms & wrist[s] go up toward [his] neck back area as if [he] was a contortionist." (Id.) Washington tried to tell Officer Cudjik that he couldn't breathe because of his knee and weight. (Id.)

         After approximately 15 minutes, Washington asked to see a doctor because he was "seriously hurt." (Id. at 19.) He told the officers that he had his medical insurance card in his right front pocket, (Id.) Officer Conway retrieved his card, and Officer Cujdik stated that they could take Washington to "fast track." (Id.) When they got to "fast track, " Washington "was moving all around [and] couldn't keep still from the excruciating pain." (Id.) A nurse asked him what happened while "she was putting ointment on [his] wounds & gauze on [his] neck & forehead." (Id.) Washington alleges that Officer Cujdik was "chuckling with the nurse" during his treatment. (Id.)

         Shortly thereafter, Washington was placed into a cell. (Id. at 20.) The next day, a turnkey officer told Washington that he would make sure he got to the hospital, but that he needed to be processed first. (Id.) Washington had his fingerprints and processing photograph taken, and then was taken to see the magistrate. (Id.) He was then taken back to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he was examined for head trauma. (Id.) Washington also had X-rays taken of his neck, revealing a chipped bone injury. (Id.) He was told that he needed surgery and was placed in a neck brace. (Id.) The next morning, Officer John Doe woke him up and told him that he had to leave. (Id.)

         Subsequently, Washington was charged with burglary. (Id. at 21.) At one point, he was waiting at the courthouse for his trial, but he "never got in so [he] was on the go back to CFCF County Jail." (Id.) Washington was handcuffed to another inmate and placed inside the elevator with fifteen county inmates. (Id.) Once the elevator doors closed, the other inmates began assaulting the inmate to whom Washington was cuffed. (Id.) During the assault, Washington's "arm was jerked back & forth [agitating his] injuries that [he had] already been suffering." (Id.) Once the elevator opened, Sheriff John Doe pulled the unconscious county inmate out, taking Washington with him. (Id.) Washington's back "hit the security gate [and he and] the county inmate landed together on the floor." (Id.) He was "holding [his] back in agony the[n] Sgt. Sheriff came running & other sheriffs had come & Sheriff John Doe unhandcuff[ed] him from the unconscious county inmate." (Id.) Washington suggests that because of this incident, he suffered injuries to the right side of his head and neck. (Id. at 22.)

         Washington goes on to allege that for seven months, Hahnemann University Hospital "with the help of Nuamah CRNP, Akosua D hid or destroyed any record of [him] being treated or brought in by police on two separate dates April 26th and April 25th 2016." (Id.) He claims that because of this, he hasn't been able to have his injuries treated. (Id.) Washington states that he suffers from numbness in his right hand and arm as well as pain in his lower back and neck. (Id.) He claims that he was also "falsely arrested & charged maliciously prosecuted assault & batter[e]d kidnap[], malpractice on [deliberate] indifference." (Id.) Washington requests "monetary relief/medical relief for his claims. (Id. at 5.)

         II. ...

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