United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
R. SÁNCHEZ, C.J.
Plaintiff Tiffany Amanda Hottle, an inmate in the State
Correctional Institution - Phoenix, brings claims pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Krolle, Cooper, and
Brown for constitutional violations that
occurred while she was incarcerated at George W. Hill
Correctional Facility-a correctional facility run by Delaware
County, Pennsylvania. Defendants move separately to dismiss
Hottle's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Because Hottle has not specifically
alleged facts to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted on either her conditions of confinement claim or her
inadequate medical care claim, Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss will be granted.
claims stem from events that occurred while she was
incarcerated at George W. Hill Correctional Facility (GWH)
around November 2016. First, Hottle alleges she was subject
to unsanitary prison conditions causing her infection with
Hepatitis B. Hottle had no infectious disease before her
commitment at GWH and she was diagnosed with Hepatitis B
after two-to-three months of confinement at GWH. See
Compl. 3; Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss
¶ 14, 17, 44, 50, 51. At GWH, “there were times
the Unit and Block smelled of urine also and had rats in the
showers. The sewers are connected to the drains in the shower
room.” Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 72. Hottle further
alleges GWH is generally unsanitary and there are problems
with cleanliness, sanitation, control and public safety.
See Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 18. At the relevant time,
Krolle and Cooper were assigned to the oversight of
Hottle's cell block and were responsible for the welfare
of the inmates housed therein.
Hottle alleges she received inadequate medical treatment for
her Hepatitis B infection. On the day prior to Hottle
receiving her Hepatitis B diagnosis, she was walking in her
block when Krolle approached her and stated Hottle looked
yellow. Hottle stated she was fatigued and did not feel like
herself. Krolle told Hottle she should go to medical and
Hottle agreed to have Krolle escort her there. At some point
before reaching the medical wing, Krolle met with Cooper in
front of the office and joined Krolle and Hottle on their
they arrived at the medical wing, Brown was the correctional
officer on duty in medical and she was watching over the
security cameras. While Nurse Dotty cared for Hottle, Krolle
and Cooper waited at the doors. Hottle repeatedly asked to go
to the hospital. At this time, personnel were unaware of what
condition or infection Hottle suffered from. See
Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 26-27. Nurse Dotty suggested Hottle
might need a bilirubin test, or her condition might be caused
by something in her stomach. Hottle was placed under
observation, Krolle and Cooper left the medical wing, and
Hottle was not taken to the hospital. Brown, as the
overseeing correctional officer of the medical wing, then
handcuffed Hottle to the gurney. Brown returned to her post
and continued to monitor the security cameras. Six hours
later, a physician assistant released Hottle to her block.
next day, Hottle returned to the medical wing and received
blood tests and lab work. Nurse S informed Hottle her lab
reports showed a diagnosis of Hepatitis B. Nurse S also told
Hottle she likely contracted the disease from the prison. Dr.
Pierce later told Hottle she had irreversible liver failure
and “her [CBC] numbers were out of whack.” Compl.
3. Dr. Pierce also informed Hottle she was infected in the
last two weeks but did not prescribe her any medications,
refer her to the hospital, or send her to see an infectious
on the foregoing, Hottle filed the instant action on February
5, 2018, against Krolle, Cooper, and Brown. In her Complaint,
Hottle alleges violations of her Eighth Amendment rights
regarding her conditions of confinement and inadequate
medical care. Defendants Krolle and Cooper filed a Motion to
Dismiss on June 19, 2018. Hottle responded to the Motion on
June 19, 2018. At that time, Defendant Brown had not been
served with Hottle's Complaint. The Court stayed this
case for 60 days from September 5, 2018, until November 4,
2018. During the stay, Defendant Brown was served. She then
filed an identical Motion to Dismiss on November 9, 2018.
Hottle did not respond to Brown's Motion and the Court
ordered Hottle to respond by March 18, 2019. To date, Hottle
has not responded to Brown's Motion. Defendants'
Motions are now ripe for review.
withstand dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
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).
first claim concerns her living conditions at GWH. Hottle
alleges her Hepatitis B diagnosis resulted from the
prison's unsanitary conditions. Specifically, she states
she had no diseases or infections before entering the prison
and thus she must have contracted the disease due to living
in the prison's conditions. Hottle claims generally there
was “negligence of cleanliness, sanitation, control and
public safety.” Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 18. She also
alleges her unit and block at times smelled of urine, had
rats in the shower, and the sewers were connected to the
drains in the shower room. See Id. ¶ 72. Hottle
asserts both Krolle and Cooper oversaw her block and were
responsible for the conditions, safety, and any exposure to
infectious disease or raw sewage. See Id. ¶ 3-4.
prison official to be held liable for an Eighth Amendment
violation concerning conditions of confinement, first, the
“deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently
serious, ” that is, “the inmate must show that he
is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of
serious harm.” See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Only conditions that deprive a prisoner of one of
life's necessities, such as food, water, clothing,
shelter, and medical care are unconstitutional. See
Griffin v. Vaughn, 112 F.3d 703, 709 (3d Cir. 1997).
Second, “a prison official must have a sufficiently
culpable state of mind, ” which is “deliberate
indifference to inmate health or safety.” Id.
To be deliberately indifferent, the official must know of and
disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.
See id. at 837.
under these standards, Hottle's conditions of confinement
claim falls short. While Hottle's cell and GWH may have
been dirty or unpleasant, “unpleasant prison conditions
in and of themselves do not state a cognizable [E]ighth
[A]mendment claim.” Payton v. Vaughn, 798
F.Supp. 258, 261 (E.D. Pa. 1992) (“All that a prison is
required constitutionally to give an inmate is a minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.” (citation
omitted)). Although, Hottle alleges the conditions caused her
to contract Hepatitis B, and thus provides plausibility that
some condition posed an excessive risk to her health, she has
not identified with any plausibility which conditions caused
her infection. See Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 16
(“The exposure to infectious disease or raw sewage,
however I was contaminated, is Krolle and Cooper's
liability.”). Additionally, Hottle's general
allegations state the prison occasionally smelled of urine,
which is ...