The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; J. CURTIS JOYNER
The parties in the instant civil rights action have filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the grounds that the record in this matter now reflects that no material issues of fact remain and that they are each entitled to the entry of judgment in their favor as a matter of law. For the reasons set forth below, the motions are denied.
The history of this case may be quickly recited in the following manner. On July 16, 1990, the Plaintiff, Steven A. Schwartz, was temporarily transferred from the Raybrook, New York, Federal Correctional Institution, where he was serving a sentence for bank fraud, to the Montgomery County Prison in Norristown, Pennsylvania to await attendance at a Post-Conviction Hearing Act hearing. Approximately one week later, on July 24, 1990, the Plaintiff was suddenly and violently attacked and assaulted, apparently without provocation, by another inmate, one Brian K. Sanders thereby suffering severe abrasions to his neck, chin and eye areas and contusions to his elbows. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Mr. Sanders had a long history of violent and assaultive behavior both within and outside of the prison and juvenile justice systems.
On the day immediately preceding his attack on plaintiff Schwartz, Brian Sanders had appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Stanley Ott to be sentenced for the September, 1989 rape and aggravated assault of a fellow inmate at the very same Montgomery County Prison facility. That offense had been Mr. Sanders' ninth conviction for rape, most of which had involved "various and sundry weaker young male patients and/or inmates at various state institutions." In sentencing Mr. Sanders to the maximum terms permitted under the Pennsylvania state sentencing guidelines, Judge Ott observed that he was "a most dangerous man... a predator..." and recommended that "this very dangerous criminal be segregated as much as possible from all other inmates in whatever institution he is sent to."
Additionally, Sanders disrupted the court proceedings by refusing to stand voluntarily for his sentencing and knocking over the counsel table at which he had been sitting requiring several sheriff's deputies to physically subdue him.
As a consequence of this assault by Sanders, Plaintiff brought this lawsuit against the Montgomery County Prison, its warden, governing board,
the County itself and the Montgomery County Commissioners for monetary damages, costs and counsel fees. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants' failure to segregate Sanders from the general population of the County prison and in thereby affording him the opportunity to assault and injure Plaintiff constitutes a violation of Plaintiff's rights to due process of law and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As noted above, Plaintiff now moves for the entry of judgment in his favor as a matter of law on these claims as to the issue of liability. Defendants, in turn, submit that inasmuch as they are immune from suit under the doctrines of absolute and qualified immunity, judgment is properly entered at this time in their favor as a matter of law dismissing Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice.
The legal standards and principles to be followed by the district courts in resolving motions for summary judgment are clearly outlined in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), which states in relevant part:
... The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith 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 a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.
In this way, a motion for summary judgment requires the court to look beyond the bare allegations of the pleadings to determine if they have sufficient factual support to warrant their consideration at trial. Liberty Lobby, Inc. v. Dow Jones & Co., 267 U.S. App. D.C. 337, 838 F.2d 1287 (D.C. Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 825, 109 S. Ct. 75, 102 L. Ed. 2d 51 (1988). See Also : Aries Realty, Inc. v. AGS Columbia Associates, 751 F. Supp. 444 (S.D. N.Y. 1990).
As a general rule, the party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). In considering a summary judgment motion, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor ...