Negrich v. Hohn, 15705.

Decision Date16 June 1967
Docket NumberNo. 15705.,15705.
Citation379 F.2d 213
PartiesRobert W. NEGRICH, Appellant, v. William R. HOHN, Warden, Westmoreland County Prison, Marshall V. Benjdich, Asst. County Detective, Edward F. Singer, Pennsylvania State Police, Alex W. Copeland, Sheriff, Westmoreland County, John Marefka, Prison Guard, Westmoreland County, Richard E. McCormick, District Attorney, Westmoreland County, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

Harry Alan Sherman, Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellant.

H. Reginald Belden, Greensburg, Pa., and Gilbert J. Helwig, Pittsburgh, Pa., for all appellees except Singer.

Thomas J. Reinstadtler, Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa. (Egler, McGregor & Reinstadtler, Pittsburgh, Pa., on the brief), for appellee Singer.

Before STALEY, Chief Judge, GANEY, Circuit Judge, and SHERIDAN, District Judge.

SHERIDAN, District Judge.

This is an appeal by plaintiff from orders of the district court dismissing his complaint against six State and County officials in an in forma pauperis action under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U. S.C.A. § 1983.

While plaintiff was confined in the Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, prison awaiting trial for armed robbery, a prison breach occurred and a guard was beaten. Plaintiff was indicted for prison breach and felonious assault. He was acquitted of the armed robbery. After four days of trial on the prison breach and assault charges, at which he was represented by the same counsel who had defended him on the armed robbery charge, he withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty.

The defendants are: State Policeman Edward F. Singer and Westmoreland County officials, District Attorney Richard E. McCormick, Sheriff Alex W. Copeland, Warden William R. Hohn, Assistant County Detective Marshall V. Brajdich,1 John Marefka, Prison Guard.2 By amended order dated September 24, 1965, the district court dismissed the complaint against Copeland, Marefka and McCormick, and by order dated October 7, 1965, the district court dismissed the complaint against Hohn, Brajdich and Singer.

The complaint makes broad charges that all defendants inflicted upon the plaintiff "a cruel and unusual punishment for some (approximately) 120 days while plaintiff was in defendants' custody awaiting trial" because he would not sign a statement that he was involved in a prison break; that he pleaded guilty because he was in fear for his life as a result of cruel and "inhuman" punishment; that the defendants in charge of the prison put plaintiff on bread and water for some 30 days; that defendants repeatedly beat plaintiff and forced him to sign a statement;3 that defendants denied plaintiff the right to see his attorney; that defendants had false charges placed against plaintiff. Warden Hohn is specifically charged with placing plaintiff in solitary confinement on a restricted diet.

The Civil Rights Act protects a person who under color of state law is deprived of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws by making those responsible liable in damages. This court has upheld a dismissal of a complaint by a state prisoner in a Civil Rights case where the allegations were broad and conclusory, and unsupported by factual allegations. "And allegations that the defendants arbitrarily thwarted appellant's efforts to obtain or protect his legal rights through the courts are rightly said by the trial court to be `* * * conclusory in nature'. Factual documentation supporting such a conclusion would of course present a far different situation." United States ex rel. Hoge v. Bolsinger, 3 Cir. 1962, 311 F.2d 215. And in Pugliano v. Staziak, W.D.Pa.1964, 231 F. Supp. 347, aff'd 3 Cir. 1965, 345 F.2d 797, a complaint in a Civil Rights case was dismissed for failure to allege specific facts. Accord Richardson v. Rivers, 1964, 118 U.S.App.D.C. 333, 335 F.2d 996; Birnbaum v. Trussell, 2 Cir. 1965, 347 F.2d 86.

The complaint is insufficient because it is broad and conclusory.4 Its insufficiency lies in its failure to state facts in support of its conclusions. The charges of beatings and cruel and unusual punishment are made against the defendants generally and not against any particular defendant. It is apparent that all defendants could not have inflicted the beatings at the times and places indicated. Marefka and McCormick were named in the caption, but not in the body of the complaint. Copeland was named in the caption, but mentioned in the body only once.5 The allegation that the defendants deprived plaintiff of the right to counsel is general and conclusory and indicates merely an attempt by plaintiff to dictate when and where he should be permitted to confer with his counsel.6

Plaintiff claims Warden Hohn put him in solitary confinement after plaintiff signed the statement and after he was given a preliminary hearing on the prison breach charge. This indicates disciplinary action. No facts are alleged in support of a claim of cruel and unusual punishment. Prison officials have wide discretion in matters of prison operation and discipline. "Discipline reasonably maintained in * * * state prisons is not under the supervisory direction of the ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
147 cases
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Delaware
    • December 23, 1985 pleaded with specificity in order to withstand a motion to dismiss. Fletcher v. Hook, 446 F.2d 14, 16 (3rd Cir.1971); Negrich v. Hohn, 379 F.2d 213 (3rd Cir.1967); Ross v. Meagan, 638 F.2d 646, 650 (3rd Cir.1981). Broad, conclusory allegations, unsupported by specific facts implicating s......
  • Abbit v. Bernier
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • December 24, 1974
    ...tribunal in accordance with law in retribution for criminal conduct." Negrich v. Hohn, 246 F. Supp. 173, 176 (W.D.Pa.1965), aff'd, 379 F. 2d 213 (3d Cir. 1967) (emphasis added). See also, Zwick v. Freeman, 373 F.2d 110, 119 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 835, 88 S.Ct. 43, 19 L.Ed.2d 96 (......
  • Comtronics, Inc. v. Puerto Rico Tel. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • June 17, 1975
    ...699 (2 Cir. 1972); Metcalf v. Ogilvie, 436 F.2d 361 (7 Cir. 1970); Finley v. Rittenhouse, 416 F.2d 1186 (9 Cir. 1969); Negrich v. Hohn, 379 F.2d 213 (3 Cir. 1967); Pugliano v. Staziak, 231 F.Supp. 347 (D.C.Pa.1964), affd. 345 F.2d 797 (3 Cir. Considering first the equal protection claim the......
  • Ingraham v. Wright
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • January 8, 1976
    ...with law and retribution for criminal conduct.' Negrich v. Hohn, 246 F.Supp. 173 (W.D.Pa.1965), affirmed on other grounds, 379 F.2d 213 (3rd Cir. 1967) (emphasis added). E.g., Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972) (death penalty as cruel and unusual punishmen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT