Pa. Correctional Institution ruled immune from inmate suit
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The 2011 lawsuit that first detailed allegations of abuses on the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh's F Block, and is now one of six related claims against state officials, was reduced in scope by a federal judge Friday.
In the lawsuit, an unidentified former SCI Pittsburgh inmate, incarcerated for theft, said he was subjected to sexual demands from corrections Officer Harry Nicoletti, recruited into a systematic effort to haze sex offenders and choked by another officer. It said that prison managers up the chain of command ignored reports of problems on F Block.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan ruled that the inmate could not sue the state or its employees for actions taken in their official capacities because they are generally immune from suit. The Department of Corrections is dismissed as a defendant.
But the judge allowed the inmate to continue to pursue claims that Mr. Nicoletti and several fired prison managers violated the inmate's rights in their individual actions, as opposed to their official actions.
The department is defending its former managers and would pay any judgment against them, but is not defending or indemnifying Mr. Nicoletti. The six lawsuits stemming from alleged abuses on F Block are moving forward in a group overseen by Judge Lenihan.
The inmate's lawsuit preceded the filing of criminal charges against Mr. Nicoletti and six other officers. Mr. Nicoletti, who has since been suspended, and three other officers still face charges, have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trials this fall and winter.
First Published October 1, 2012 12:00 am