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Jones v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 10, 2019

AKI JONES, Plaintiff
v.
JOHN E. WETZEL, et al., Defendants

          CONNER, C.J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          WILLIAM I. ARBUCKLE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Aki Jones (“Plaintiff”), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks to recover damages for alleged violations of the United States Constitution during his grievance appeal process as a state prisoner. Plaintiff initiated this matter by filing a Complaint (Doc. 1) on June 21, 2017. In response, Defendants filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 24). The matter has been referred to me to prepare a Report and Recommendation. For the reasons explained below, I RECOMMEND that Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings be GRANTED in favor of Defendants.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         According to his Complaint, Plaintiff is a state prisoner, confined at SCI-Somerset. (Doc. 1, ¶ 3). Plaintiff received a misconduct charge for assault and aggravated assault. Id. at 19. Defendant Bregman's report stated: “On April 15, 2015 at 2151 hours, I, Officer Bregman, was able to positively identify inmate Jones KP-4179 assaulting Sgt. Burggraff on video of a disturbance in south yard dated April 28, 2015 with a time stamp of approximately 1435. I observed inmate Jones punching Sgt. Burggraff in the head and then wrestling Sgt. Burggraff to the ground.” Id. On April 28, 2015, Plaintiff was placed in the Security Level 5 Housing Unit. Id. at ¶ 26.

         Defendant Ellenberger is the Hearing Examiner. Id. at ¶ 7. At the hearing regarding this misconduct, Defendant Ellenberger was not permitted to use a video recording of the incident because the video's time stamp began at 1437 hours and the alleged misconduct occurred at 1435 hours. Id. at 20. Defendant Ellenberger concluded that a preponderance of the evidence existed to support the charge of aggravated assault. Id. at ¶ 21. On May 21, 2015, Plaintiff appealed the decision to the Program Review Committee, who upheld Defendant Ellenberger's decision. Id. at ¶ 23.

         Plaintiff appealed to Defendant Warden Ferguson, who upheld the Program Review Committee's decision. Id. Plaintiff appealed Defendant Warden Ferguson's decision to the Chief Hearing Examiner, and the Chief Hearing Examiner remanded the matter back to Defendant Ellenberger. Id. at ¶¶ 22-23. On remand, Defendant Ellenberger concluded: “Based on the report presented: charge #1 Assault and charge #11 Aggravated Assault dismissed without prejudice.” Id. at ¶ 23.

         On October 9, 2015, Defendant Bregman issued a second misconduct report, a recharge on assault: “On April 15, 2015 at 2151 hours, I Officer Bregman, was able to positively identify inmate Jones KP-4179 assaulting Sgt. Burggraff on video of a disturbance in south yard dated April 28, 2015 with a time stamp of 1438. I observed inmate Jones punching Sgt. Burggraff in the head and then wrestling Sgt. Burggraff to the ground.” Id. at ¶ 24. At the hearing for that misconduct report, Defendant Ellenberger concluded: “Based on the report presented: charge #1 Assault dismissed without prejudice.” Id. at ¶ 25. At this time, Plaintiff has not been recharged. On November 18, 2016, Plaintiff was removed from the Security Level 5 Housing Unit. Id. at ¶ 26.

         On June 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (Doc. 1). As defendants, Plaintiff named:

(1) John E. Wetzel, Secretary of the Department of Corrections;
(2) Trevor A. Wingard, Warden of SCI-Somerset;
(3) Tammy Ferguson, Warden of SCI-Benner;
(4) S. Ellenberger, Hearing Examiner at SCI-Benner;
(5) Bregman, Correctional Officer at SCI-Benner;
(6) Bobbi Jo Salamon, Program Review Committee Member at ...

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