The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODY
Pro-se Plaintiff Elijah Muhammad is an inmate who was previously incarcerated at Lehigh County Prison.
Plaintiff brings this Section 1983 action against Defendant Deborah Hilbert, a corrections officer at Lehigh County Prison, claiming that Defendant infringed upon his constitutional right of access to court by denying him entry to the prison's law library. Plaintiff also claims that his constitutional rights were infringed upon by Defendant's alleged harassment of him.
Plaintiff brought suit on March 27, 1995 under Section 1983, seeking a declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction, two temporary restraining orders, and compensatory and punitive damages.
On September 25, 1995, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which is under consideration here. For the following reasons, summary judgment will be granted.
According to Plaintiff's Complaint, on February 14, 1995, Plaintiff had an appointment to do research in the Lehigh County Prison's law library. Plaintiff arrived at the appointment late, due to the fault of prison officials, and was denied access to the library by Defendant, a corrections officer on library duty. Despite repeated efforts to gain entry, Plaintiff was unable to use the library that day. In response, Plaintiff filed an administrative grievance against Defendant.
Plaintiff then alleges that on February 16, 1995, while using the library, Defendant "verbally attacked and harassed" him, in response to his filing the grievance.
On March 6, 1995, Plaintiff filed this action under Section 1983 against the Defendant. Plaintiff claims that the denial of access to the library constitutes an intentional and deliberate denial of his constitutional right of access to court. Plaintiff also claims that the harassment he suffered served to further infringe upon his constitutional rights.
The harms Plaintiff alleges include emotional distress with physical manifestations (namely headaches), paranoia, and confusion. Plaintiff never claims any legal harm - for example, he never argues that the litigation pending during the time in question was affected by the denial of access in any way.
In response, Defendant argues that Plaintiff alleges no specific harm or prejudice that would entitle him to Section 1983 relief. Furthermore, Defendant argues that she is entitled to a defense of qualified immunity. Finally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's request for equitable relief is moot, due to his transfer to another prison, and due to his failure to attain class certification.
II. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Rule 56(c) states that summary judgment is properly granted when there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The movant (Defendant in this case) bears the burden of demonstrating that the evidence presented is insufficient to support the claims and therefore a reasonable jury would be unable to reach a verdict for the Plaintiff. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). If this initial burden is met, then the non-moving party (Plaintiff) bears the burden of demonstrating that there are disputes of material fact that should proceed to trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986). If the Plaintiff does not carry this burden, then summary judgment should be granted. All doubts are resolved in favor of the Plaintiff. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S. Ct. 993, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1962).
As the following discussion will demonstrate, Defendant has carried her initial threshold burden. Plaintiff, however, fails to carry his burden, and for this reason, summary judgment will be granted.
A. Requirements for Section ...