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Mims v. Shapp

November 29, 1982

JEFFREY ROGER MIMS, JOHN JAMES KEEN, EDWARD X. SISTRUNK, GLENN X. JORDAN, FRED BURTON, VIVIAN RICHBOURG, DAVID SCOGGINS, FRANK PATTERSON, CLIFFORD FUTCH, ALL PRISONERS AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA (HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS S.C.I. PGH.), ALL WHO WERE OR ARE PRESENTLY CONFINED TO THE BEHAVIORAL ADJUSTMENT UNIT, (HEREINAFTER KNOWN AS THE B.A.U.), ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED IN THE B.A.U.
v.
MILTON SHAPP, GOVERNOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ISRAEL PACKEL, ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STEWART WERNER, COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, JAMES HOWARD, WARDEN OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, CHARLES ZIMMERMAN, DEPUTY WARDEN OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, WILLIAM JENNINGS, DEPUTY WARDEN OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, LAWRENCE WEYANDT, MAJOR OF THE GUARDS AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, JOHN JASAK, CAPTAIN OF THE GUARDS AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, DAVID YOUNG, CASEWORK SUPERVISOR AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, CHARLES KOZAKIEWCZ, LIEUTENANT OF THE GUARDS OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PGH. IN CHARGE OF PRISON SECURITY, JAMES ROBLES, SERGEANT OF THE GUARDS OF THE SCI PGH. IN CHARGE OF THE B.A.U., SERGEANT CARUTHERS, SERGEANT OF THE GUARDS OF THE SCI PGH. IN CHARGE OF THE B.A.U., THEIR AGENTS, SUBORDINATES AND EMPLOYEES; FREDERICK BURTON V. WILLIAM B. ROBINSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, TOGETHER WITH HIS AGENTS AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST, STEWART WERNER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ROBERT L. JOHNSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GRATERFORD, GRATERFORD, PENNSYLVANIA, JULIUS T. CUYLER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GRATERFORD, TOGETHER WITH HIS AGENTS AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST, JOSEPH BRIERLY AND GILBERT A. WALTERS, INDIDIVUDALLY AND IN THEIR FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, AND JAMES F. HOWARD, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, TOGETHER WITH HIS AGENTS AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST MILTON SHAPP, GOVERNOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ISRAEL PACKEL, ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STEWART WERNER, COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, JAMES HOWARD, WARDEN OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, CHARLES ZIMMERMAN, DEPUTY WARDEN OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, WILIAM JENNINGS, DEPUTY WARDEN OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, LAWRENCE WEYANDT, MAJOR OF THE GUARDS AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, JOHN JASAK, CAPTAIN OF THE GUARDS AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, DAVID YOUNG, CASEWORK SUPERVISOR AT THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, CHARLES KOZAKIEWCZ, LIEUTENANT OF THE GUARDS OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PGH. IN CHARGE OF PRISON SECURITY, JAMES ROBLES, SERGEANT OF THE GUARDS OF THE SCI PGH. IN CHARGE OF TH E B.A.U., SERGEANT CARUTHERS, SERGEANT OF THE GUARDS OF THE SCI PGH. IN CHARGE OF THE B.A.U., THEIR AGENTS, SUBORDINATES AND EMPLOYEES WILIAM B. ROBINSON, INDIVUDALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, TOGETHER WITH HIS AGENTS AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST, STEWART WERNER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ROBERT L. JOHNSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GRATERFORD, GRATERFORD, PENNSYLVANIA, JULIUS T. CUYLER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GRATERFORD, TOGETHER WITH HIS AGENTS AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST, JOSEPH BRIERLY AND GILBERT A. WALTERS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, AND JAMES F. HOWARD, INDIVIDUALLY AND HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT PITTSBURGH, TOGETHER WITH HIS AGENTS AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST, APPELLANTS



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Author: Aldisert

Before: ALDISERT and HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judges and MEANOR, District Judge*fn*

Opinion OF THE COURT

ALDISERT, Circuit Judge.

This appeal is brought by Pennsylvania prison officials, defendants below, from a judgment and damage award entered in favor of a state prisoner in a non-jury trial brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We must decide whether the district court erred in determining that defendants violated the prisoner's due process rights by placing him in segregated confinement for five years. If we conclude that the district court was correct in this determination, we must then decide if the award of damages was appropriate.

Appellants argue that: (1) they did not violate appellee's constitutional rights; (2) if they did then they are not liable for damages because they are protected by qualified executive immunity; and (3) if they are not so protected, then the damages were erroneously awarded as the district court failed to find that plaintiff's confinement was unjustified and it wrongly assessed liability from January to September 1978. We find these contentions meritless and affirm the judgment of the district court.

I.

In May 1973 plaintiff Burton was an inmate in Philadelphia's Holmesburg prison serving a sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. See Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Burton, 459 Pa. 550, 330 A.2d 833 (1974). While at Holmesburg he was involved in a confrontation with the warden and deputy warden, which resulted in their deaths by stabbing.*fn1 Immediately after this incident, Burton was transferred first to the state prison in Graterford and subsequently to Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh. He was placed in solitary confinement in the Behavioral Adjustment Unit (BAU) in both prisons. Burton remained in solitary confinement in Western Penitentiary for more than five years until his release into the general prison population in September 1978.

Although no hearing preceded his assignment to the BAU at either Graterford or Pittsburgh, by late 1975, prison authorities at Western Penitentiary began regular monthly reviews of Burton's solitary confinement status through the Program Review Committee (PRC). The court below found that the PRC always recommended that Burton remain in the BAU for an additional thirty days. These recommendations were submitted to the Warden, Mr. Howard, who invariably agreed. At no time prior to his BAU release in 1978 did the prison authorities develop plans to reintroduce Burton gradually into the general prison population; at no time was Burton informed of specific criteria by which his eligibility for a return to the general population would be judged; at no time was he allowed sufficient contacts with the world outside the BAU whereby he might demonstrate that he no longer represented a significant security risk to the prison. Mims v. Shapp, 457 F.Supp. 247, 249-50 (W.D.Pa. 1978) (opinion issued with order granting motion for preliminary injunction).

Burton filed suit in 1975 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging, inter alia, that his continued confinement in the BAU violated his fifth amendment due process rights and the eighth amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, both made applicable to the states under the fourteeneth amendment. He sought injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees. In August 1978, the district court granted Burton's motion for a preliminary injunction against his continued confinement. In so ruling, the court did not rely on the eighth amendment, as it concluded that "the conditions in the BAU . . . are not so shockingly inadequate as to constitute in themselves cruel and unusual punishment. . . ." Mims, 457 F.Supp. at 250. On Burton's fifth amendment claim, however, the district court found a constitutional violation "that the Commonwealth . . . failed to give Burton . . . minimum due process protections. . . ." Id. at 252. Subsequently, in September 1978, Burton was released from the BAU; in November 1980, the district court awarded him $6,700 in compensatory damages; and in December 1981, he was awarded $8,200 in attorney's fees. Defendants appealed.

II.

Appellants' first contention is that the trial court erred in holding that Burton suffered any deprivation of his constitutional right to due process. In reviewing the district court's holding, our standard is "plenary" as to the choice and application of the controlling legal precepts and "clearly erroneous" as to any facts required to be found in support of the ruling. Universal Minerals, Inc. v. C.A. Hughes & Co., 669 F.2d 98, 103 (3d Cir. 1981); Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298 (3d Cir. 1972).

In determining that a constitutional violation had occurred, the district court applied the principles of Kelly v. Brewer, 525 F.2d 394 (8th Cir. 1975). In Kelly, the Eighth Circuit stated that

While . . . administrative segregation is not inherently unconstitutional, the validity depends upon . . . the existence of a valid and subsisting reason or reasons for the segregation. . . . It goes without saying that a prison warden may not constitutionally put an inmate in administrative segregation, involving solitary confinement or other rigorous conditions of imprisonment, simply because he dislikes the inmate or desires to punish him for past misconduct. Moreover, it should be emphasized that the reason or reasons for the segregation must not only be valid at the outset but must continue to subsist during the period of the segregation.Conditions in prisons ...


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