United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION AND ORDER
Maureen P. Kelly, Magistrate Judge.
Orlando Stanford ("Plaintiff), who is currently
incarcerated at State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale
("SCI-Houtzdale"), brings this pro se
civil rights action arising out of alleged violations of his
constitutional rights during his incarceration in the
Restricted Housing Unit at the Westmoreland County Prison in
before the Court are two Motions for Summary Judgment filed
on behalf of Defendants. ECF Nos. 161, 163. For the reasons
that follow, the Motions for Summary Judgment will be
claims arise out of twenty-nine days during which he was
incarcerated in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU")
at Westmoreland County Prison. In his Complaint, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants violated his Fifth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights through the conditions of his
confinement in the RHU, where he was denied access to
showers, recreation, and clean linens from between 8 and 20
days, and subjected to constant illumination and isolation.
Plaintiff claims that, as a result of these conditions, he
developed a fungal toenail infection; deterioration of his
mental health; decreased vision, cluster headaches, digestion
problems, and irregular heartbeat. ECF No. 176 ¶ 18, 29;
ECF No. 176-1 ¶ 31.
addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying him medical
treatment with respect to a purported toenail infection and
mental healthcare in the RHU. Finally, he asserts violations
of his First, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights as a
result of Defendants' purported failure to provide him
with legal materials necessary to prepare his criminal
defense, and by hindering his ability to pursue his
administrative remedies within the prison.
Defendants remaining in the case at this stage in the
litigation are Westmoreland County Prison and the
Westmoreland County Prison Board (the "Prison
Board"), and prison officials John Walton
("Walton"), Eric Schwartz ("Schwartz"),
Steven Cmar ("Cmar"), Brad Tomasello
("Tomasello") and George Lowther
("Lowther"). Walton is the Warden of Westmoreland
was confined at the Westmoreland County Prison from September
2, 2016 to October 27, 2016, and he was placed in the RHU on
September 6, 2016 for a rule infraction. ECF No. 185
¶¶ 1, 3. He was released from the RHU on October 5,
2016. Id. ¶5; ECF No. 185-1 at 6.
relies on an affidavit he prepared in opposition to
Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 176-1. In
his affidavit, Plaintiff asserts that, while in the RHU, he
was not given a recreation hour from September 6, 2016 to
September 21, 2016. ECF No. 176- 1 ¶ 3. He was not
provided access to a shower from September 8, 2016 to
September 16, 2016. Id. He also claims that he was
not given clean linens or a clean uniform from September 6,
2016 to September 26, 2016. Id. Plaintiffs cellmate,
Christopher Smarr ("Smarr"), attests in an
affidavit that he witnessed a corrections officer tell
Plaintiff that "he now has a set schedule and denied
[Plaintiff] a shower or recreation." ECF No. 175-20 at
Plaintiff claims he was kept in solitary confinement, the
record before the Court is silent as to whether, and for how
long, this occurred. Smarr claims that he was Plaintiffs
cellmate in the E-Unit. Defendants state that Plaintiff was
transferred to E-Unit on September 19, 2016 and remained
until October 5, 2016, when he was released from the RHU and
transferred to A-Unit. ECF No. 175-12 at 18; ECF No. 175-13
at 2. Additionally, Plaintiff claims he was exposed to
"24-hour lighting" and constant illumination, but
he does not proffer any evidence regarding the brightness,
location, or other details regarding the light. ECF No. 176
Plaintiffs Medical Complaints
his confinement in the RHU, Plaintiff claims that he
requested treatment for what he claimed to be a toenail
infection. ECF No. 175-8; ECF No. 176-1 ¶ 18. On
September 26, 2016, Dawn Bickerton ("Bickerton"), a
physician assistant employed by Wexford Health at the
Westmoreland County Prison, evaluated Plaintiffs symptoms.
ECF No. 185-1 at 10; ECF No. 185 ¶ 13. According to
Bickerton's notes of her evaluation, Plaintiff
self-diagnosed a soft-tissue infection in his "right
great toe." ECF No. 185-1 at 10. Bickerton examined both
of Plaintiff s feet and determined there was: "older
ecchy under nail and at base of the nail. [V]ery minimal
swelling at the base of the toenail. [N]o warmth. [N]o
redness. [N]o swelling of toe. [N]o open areas."
Id. She concluded there was no evidence of infection
and that no treatment was required.
eight days later, former Defendant Amy Widmar
("Widmar"), Health Services Administrator,
evaluated Plaintiff again on October 4, 2016 at the
Westmoreland County Prison. ECF No. 59 ¶¶ 33-35.
Plaintiff claims that there is no record of this examination,
and that Widmar refused to look at his toe, simply deferring
to Bickerton's conclusions. ECF No. 59 ¶¶
33-35; ECF No. 176 ¶ 26. However, in response to
Plaintiffs prior Motion for Preliminary Injunction in this
action, Widmar filed the following notes of her October 4,
2016 examination of Plaintiff:
[E]xamined inmates big toe on left foot due to repeated
complaints of "soft tissue infection". Inmate had
been examined several times previous to this occasion both by
PA and nurse. Todays exam noted no puss, no swelling, no
redness, no evidence of infection. Inmate insistent on
receiving antibiotics, this is denied as there is no medical
indication for antibiotics. Inmate instructed to keep area
clean with soap and water, and dry. Inmate instructed to
notify medical if any NEW symptoms of "infection"
ECF No. 98-1 at 6.
Plaintiff was transferred to the State Correctional
Institution at Greene ("SCI-Greene"), on November
5, 2016, Plaintiffs toe was evaluated by Nurse Dice
("Dice"). ECF No. 175-18 at 2. According to the
medical records, Plaintiff was evaluated in connection with
his left great toe. Dice's notes indicate that Plaintiffs
toenail was loose at the cuticle, discolored and brownish.
Id. Dice concluded that there was no infection
noted, but referred Plaintiff to "sick call" to be
evaluated by a doctor or physician assistant. Id.
days later, on November 7, 2019, medical records indicate
that Plaintiff was evaluated in connection with reported
"left great toenail pain" and Plaintiffs request to
review his medication. ECF No. 175-18 at 3. According to
notes from this visit, Plaintiffs left great toenail was
thick, discolored, slightly loose, and "suggestive of
onychomychosis" (a fungal infection of . the nail).
Id. Plaintiffs "transfer health
information" sheet dated November 21, 2016 also
indicates that Plaintiff was diagnosed with the fungal
infection Tinea Unguium. ECF No. 175-18 at 4. The medical
records do not indicate the source or cause of Plaintiff s
July 6, 2016, prior to his placement in the RHU, records
indicate that Plaintiff had been diagnosed with "other
specified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic
disorder" and "adjustment order with anxiety."
ECF No. 175-5. As of August 31, 2016, a Department of
Corrections ("DOC") temporary transfer record
characterizes Plaintiff as "seriously mentally
ill." ECF No. 175-15.
received ongoing treatment from mental health professionals
while incarcerated, ECF No. 175-14 and ECF No. 175-5, and he
was prescribed medication for treatment of his condition. ECF
No. 175-18 at 4; ECF No. 175-5. Plaintiff continued to
receive medication for his psychiatric condition while housed
in the RHU at Westmoreland County Prison. ECF No. 59 at 4;
ECF No. 185-2 at 14.
states in his affidavit that, due to the incident alleged,
his "mental symptoms worsened" and became more
intense. ECF No. 176-1 ¶ 31. Plaintiff has not produced
any other . supporting evidence, medical records or expert
opinion documenting a change in his mental health symptoms or
opining as to either the cause or treatment of any purported
Other medical complaints
asserts in his Concise Statement of Material Facts that his
"eyesight decreased due to being under constant 24 hour
lighting" and this also caused Plaintiffs migraines to
progress to cluster headaches, digestion problems and
irregular heartbeat. ECF No. 176 ¶ 29. In support of
this statement, Plaintiff produces various medical records.
respect to Plaintiffs headaches, Plaintiff relies on a
medical report dated August 17, 2017, nearly a year after his
incarceration in the RHU at Westmoreland County Prison,
indicating, that Plaintiff had been experiencing headaches
almost every day for the past month, which included light and
sound sensitivity, and pressure in the temporal region. The
report concludes that his headache is most likely a
"cluster" headache. ECF No. 175-19 at 7. There is
no indication as to a specific cause of the headaches.
respect to his eyesight, Plaintiff produces a medical report
dated May 4, 2018, which indicates that "inmate was seen
3 years ago glasses were ordered then he was released, that
occurred in 2015." Id. at 2. Plaintiff was
referred to optometry. Id. There is no indication of
any decreased eyesight following Plaintiffs confinement in
the RHU at Westmoreland County Prison in 2016. There is no
indication as to a specific cause of any vision problems.
respect to his digestion, Plaintiff introduces medical
reports dated March 2017, six months after his incarceration
in the RHU at Westmoreland County Prison, indicating that
Plaintiff was experiencing constipation, nausea, dry heaving
and abdominal pain. Id. at 2-4. The records indicate
that the was treated for these symptoms and his condition
improved. Id. There is no indication as to a
specific cause of these symptoms.
with respect to his heart, Plaintiff relies on a medical
testing report dated March 13, 2018, more than a year after
his incarceration in the RHU at the Westmoreland County
Prison, indicating that Plaintiff has "normal sinus
rhythm" and "early repolarization."
Id. at 6. There is no indication of the cause or
effect of the early repolarization diagnosis.
Plaintiffs requests for medical treatment
claims that he attempted to receive treatment for a purported
toenail infection while in the RHU, but was not seen until
September 26, 2016. According to the Westmoreland County
Prison Handbook (the "Prison Handbook"), produced
and relied upon here by Plaintiff, the following notification
procedure is required to obtain medical services:
To receive medical services, you must fill out an inmate
request slip, outlining your problem and place it in the
medical request slip box on the
unit. Do not turn it over to a unit officer, and do
not place it in any other request slip box other than the
designated "medical request slip box."
ECF No. 175-3 (emphasis in original).
"sick calls," the Prison Handbook indicates as
You are to submit a written request to the medical staff, if
you wish additional medical care. You are to place this
request in the designated "medical request slip
box", not in the regular inmate request slip
box. You are to indicate your name, booking number, and
medical complaint on the request slip.
If you are having a medical emergency that cannot wait for
the next scheduled physician's visit, have the
housing unit officer contact his/her immediate
supervisor, who in turn will contact the
medical staff. Do not attempt to have a nurse examine you
during "medication distribution periods."
Id. (emphasis in original).
verified that he received a copy of the Prison Handbook on at
least three occasions prior to entering the RHU: May 24,
2016, July 15, 2016 and September 3, 2016. ECF No. 185-1 at
affidavit, Plaintiff claims that, in an effort to receive
treatment for his toenail, he informed corrections officers
as they passed by, and he informed a nurse of his request
while she was passing out medications. ECF No. 176-1
¶¶ 18, 19. Plaintiff also asserts that he
"wrote several requests for medical treatment to no
avail" over the course of several weeks. Id.
¶ 20. Plaintiff indicates that he did not receive
medical attention until September 26, 2016, after informing
prison officials at his board hearing of "his denial of
medical treatment for his infection," after which
Defendant Lowther directed that he "be seen."
Id. ¶ 21; ECF No. 176 ¶ 22. The hearing
record reflects that Defendant Schwartz was present at this
hearing, in addition to board members Floyd E. Murphy and
Shane K. Smith. ECF No. 175-7.
the exception of these board members, who are identified in
the records provided, the record does not specifically
identify which individuals Plaintiff attempted to inform of
his need, for medical treatment, or where or to whom he
directed the written requests. The parties produced one
written request slip related to Plaintiffs toenail condition,
which is directed to the medical department. This request
slip is dated Friday, September 23, 2016, and it states:
I keep writing & requesting to have my foot checked for
that soft tissue infection[.] Can ...