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Unsafe Working Conditions Suit Allowed to Proceed Against Pennsylvania Prison Officials

U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson has granted in part and denied in part a motion for summary judgment filed by prison officials accused of deliberate indifferent and negligence.

Keith Petry sued various Pennsylvania prison officials alleging 8th Amendment and negligence claims surrounding his working conditions in the prison’s powerhouse. According to Petry, prison officials forced him to work in the powerhouse without personal protective equipment. Petry, for example, alleged that he was forced to shovel coal in a 2,000 degree furnace while wearing combustible clothing that often caught on fire.

The defendant tried to argue that no safety claims could be made by Petry because he volunteered to work in the powerhouse. The Court, however, found this issue to be in dispute and irrelevant to whether Petry had agreed to work in an unsafe environment. In general, the Court further held that Petry’s allegations supported an 8th Amendment claim, and one for negligence. Nevertheless, the Court dismissed several supervisory defendants from the case as they were not involved in or aware of the dangerous powerhouse working conditions. See: Petry v. Beard, 3:09-CV-2312 (M.D. Pa. 2011).

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Related legal case

Petry v. Beard