United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION AND ORDER Re: ECF 24
MAUREEN P. KELLY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Charles Jackson (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate in the
custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, who
previously was incarcerated at the State Correctional
Institution at Fayette (“SCI-Fayette”). Plaintiff
brings this civil rights action against Defendants Eric T.
Armel, Debra A. Hawkinberry, William Tift, Steven Gates,
Leroy Staley, Frank Salvay and Jay Lane (collectively,
“Defendants”), all of whom are employed at
SCI-Fayette, alleging that they failed to protect him from
assault in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment
to the United States Constitution.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint filed pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) with a brief in support, which is
opposed by Plaintiff. ECF Nos. 24, 25, 29, and 30. For the
reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will
be granted and Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed.
parties have consented to jurisdiction by the undersigned
Magistrate Judge. See ECF Nos. 21 and 22.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
alleges that he was placed in the Restricted Housing Unit
(“RHU”) at SCI-Fayette on September 4, 2016, as a
sanction for attempting to introduce contraband into the
prison. ECF No. 8 at 3. In a Program Review Committee
(“PRC”) meeting held on November 29, 2016,
Plaintiff supposedly informed the PRC members that he would
be in danger if he was released back into the general
population and he requested a transfer. Id. A form
documenting the PRC meeting states that “[i]nmate
reports issues with release to GP, ” indicates that a
security review was needed to determine whether a transfer
was necessary and specifies that Plaintiff would be moved to
administrative custody on December 2, 2016. ECF No. 8-1, Ex.
Defendants Armel, Hawkinberry and Tift signed the form.
Tift reviewed and approved a form report showing that
Plaintiff was placed in administrative custody status on
December 2, 2016, because “inmate is in danger by/from
some person(s) in the facility and cannot be protected by
alternate means.” ECF No. 8-2, Ex. B. The notes of a
PRC meeting held on December 6, 2016, again specify the need
for a security review and indicate Plaintiff would remain in
administrative custody status. ECF No. 8-3, Ex. C. Defendants
Armel and Tift signed the PRC meeting notes. Id. At
another PRC meeting held on December 8, 2016, Plaintiff's
status was discussed, he “asked how long before he gets
transferred, ” and he was continued in administrative
custody status. ECF No. 8-4, Ex. D. Defendants Tift and Gates
signed those meeting notes. Id.
two weeks later, while still in administrative custody,
Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Armel on December 20, 2016,
requesting to be transferred to certain prisons. ECF No. 8 at
3. Defendant Armel responded that he would “copy the
security office. OPM decides where you go.” ECF No.
8-5, Ex. E.
alleges that he was released from administrative custody back
into the general population at SCI-Fayette on December 22,
2016. ECF No. 8 at 3. Plaintiff claims that he protested his
release and reiterated his fear of harm, but was told that he
would receive a misconduct and be returned to disciplinary
custody if he refused. Id.
January 13, 2017, Plaintiff alleges that another inmate
slashed him in the face with a razor, resulting in a wound
that required 13 staples. ECF No. 8 at 3, 9. According to
Plaintiff, the attack was in response to his misconduct for
bringing contraband into the prison and supposedly the reason
he informed Defendants Armel, Hawkinberry, Tift and Gates
that he would be in danger if released into the general
population. Id. at 9. Following the incident,
Plaintiff was issued a misconduct for fighting and placed
back in the RHU. Id.
January 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed a grievance concerning the
attack, claiming that Defendant Staley said “he had
things backwards, ” which Plaintiff interpreted to mean
that Staley “didn't do his job.” ECF No. 8-7,
Ex. G. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Armel, Hawkinberry,
Tift and Gates, who participated in the PRC meetings, and
Defendants Staley and Salvay, who were security personnel,
failed to protect him after he advised them that he was in
danger. ECF No. 8 at 9.
Salvay denied Plaintiff's grievance on February 3, 2017,
noting that he spoke with Defendant Staley, who did not know
what Plaintiff meant about him “having things
backwards.” ECF No. 8-8, Ex. H. Defendant Salvay's
denial explained that the security office had no information
to indicate that Plaintiff's safety would be in jeopardy
if he was released to the general population at SCI -
Fayette. Id. Plaintiff subsequently appealed the
denial of his grievance. ECF No. 8-9, Ex. I. Defendant Lane
upheld the denial on March 10, 2017, because:
[Plaintiff] self-reported [he] had issues with being released
to general population. [He was] moved to AC status upon
completion of [his] DC time. The Security Staff evaluated
[his] potential release and found no credible information
that [he was] in danger if released to general population.
The staff did their due diligence. Information provided is
attempted to be vetted before any decision is made. There
[was] no way for the staff to predict [Plaintiff was] in
danger if released.
ECF No. 8-10, Ex. J. Plaintiff appealed Defendant Lane's
decision to the Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals. ECF
No. 8-11, Ex. K. On April 25, 2017, the Chief Grievance
Officer upheld Defendant Lane's decision because the
record showed that the security office at SCI-Fayette did not
have information that Plaintiff's safety was in ...