The opinion of the court was delivered by: HUYETT
Plaintiff Richard Collins, #AS-2659, is an inmate at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Frackville (SCIF) and has been an SCIF inmate at all times relevant to his claims. He is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Defendants are SCIF officials: Corrections Officer II (Sergeant) James J. Popson, Corrections Officer I August Witowski, and Corrections Officer II (Sergeant) William Wetzel. Plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and unspecified state law. Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment and violated unspecified state law. Plaintiff asserts that Sergeant Popson and other officers escorted him to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) and beat him. He alleges that Sergeant Wetzel stood over him with a baton to make sure that he did not resist the beating, and that Officer Witowski caused the incident by falsely claiming that Plaintiff tried to hit and kick him. Plaintiff requests compensatory damages and declaratory relief. Defendants answered Plaintiff's complaint and Defendant Witowski counterclaimed that Plaintiff assaulted and battered him. Defendants move for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff has failed to respond to the motion.
Officers Sanzatto, Witowski, and Procopio first arrived at the scene to break up the fight. Sanzatto ordered Collins and Santiago to stop fighting. Sanzatto then started to restrain Santiago while Procopio grabbed Plaintiff's hand to block his punch aimed at Procopio or Santiago. Meanwhile, Defendant Witowski pinned Plaintiff's arms to his side in a bear hug. Until Sanzatto completely restrained Santiago, Santiago was swinging upwards towards Plaintiff's face.
After the officers separated the inmates, officers escorted Santiago away and Plaintiff appeared to calm down. Officers Witowski and Procopio released Collins and ordered him to face the wall. Plaintiff complained about Witowski's restraining him and repeatedly suggested that they fight. Plaintiff then disobeyed a repeated order to place his hands on the wall, stepped forward, and swung and kicked at Officer Witowski. Plaintiff lunged at Officer Witowski and pushed him against the railing of the upper tier.
Officer Procopio then intercepted Collins, and together with Witowski, quickly forced the struggling Collins face down on the concrete floor. Plaintiff continued to resist as Officer Witowski handcuffed him. Collins received abrasions on his left outer wrist. Officer Witowski received a bruise near his left elbow and a cut on his right hand.
When Officers Witowski and Procopio escorted Plaintiff downstairs on 8-Block he calmed down. From there, Sergeants Popson and Lorady and Officer Dorshefski escorted Plaintiff to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). Sergeant Popson held Plaintiff's right arm and Sergeant Lorady held Plaintiff's left arm. The officers escorted Plaintiff to the RHU stripsearch room and remained there during the search. Plaintiff's handcuffs were removed and Defendant Sergeant Wetzel conducted the search. Sergeant Wetzel ordered Plaintiff to stand against the wall and remove his clothes item by item.
Officer Kutsko was also present to ensure security during the search. Officer Kutsko was the only person in the stripsearch room with any type of stick, and his only use of it was to show it.
According to the records and declarations submitted, nothing unusual occurred in the stripsearch room and no force was used. After Plaintiff dressed, he was cuffed and escorted to an RHU shower cell where he remained for about ten minutes until prison officials could vacate and prepare an RHU cell for him. Lieutenant Durant saw Plaintiff in the shower cell and tried to interview him, but Plaintiff did not answer Durant's questions.
Plaintiff had a visible slight cut in one eyebrow and a bump or abrasion around one eye when he first entered the RHU. He also had a minuscule cut in his other eyebrow and abrasions on his left wrist near his handcuff. His appearance had not changed from when he first arrived in the RHU at about 2:50 p.m. until when he was escorted from the shower cell to his new cell by 3:30 p.m. Plaintiff received medical attention at 3:30 p.m. The medical reports state that Plaintiff had abrasions on the handcuff area of his left wrist and a cut in or near each eyebrow. One cut was about one-tenth of one inch and the other was small. The registered nurse noted that Plaintiff did not need follow-up treatment and that there were no injuries apart from these minor injuries. The doctor examined Plaintiff the next day and noted that Plaintiff had no problems.
II. Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment shall be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Where the movant is the defendant, or the party without the burden on the underlying claim, as here, the movant does not have an obligation to produce evidence negating the opponent's case. The moving party rather must demonstrate that there is a lack of any evidence to support the nonmovant's claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). To prove that no genuine factual issues exist, a movant must present a factual scenario without any "unexplained gaps." National State Bank v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 979 F.2d 1579 (3d Cir. 1992). Once the movant satisfies this initial burden, the proponent of the claim must demonstrate to the court that there is sufficient evidence available from which a jury might return a verdict in his favor under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 ...