to interrogatories or admissions on file, as stated in Rule 56(e), "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
As Celotex teaches, "the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Where the nonmoving party fails to make such a showing with respect to an essential element of its case, "there can be 'no genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323. "The moving party is 'entitled to a judgment as a matter of law' because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Id.
III. STATEMENT OF FACTS
Plaintiff was injured on April 28, 1995, while working at his place of employment, Weymouth Stables, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff states that he injured his lower back and hip when a large tree limb he was clearing fell on him. He reported the injury to his employer, who submitted a claim in June, 1995 to its workmen's compensation carrier, the State Workmen's Insurance Fund. Plaintiff returned to work soon after his injury.
Claims adjusters at SWIF initially determined that Plaintiff sought payment for only medical expenses, since he had returned to work within seven days of his injury and was thus ineligible for total disability benefits. See 77 P.S. § 511 (Purdon's 1992). Accordingly, SWIF began to pay the Plaintiff's medical bills associated with his April 28th injury. On September 29, 1995, however, Plaintiff stopped working upon suggestion of his orthopedic surgeon and requested total disability benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act.
SWIF received notice from Plaintiff's employer on October 5, 1995 that he had stopped working. Although a contractor for SWIF investigated Plaintiff's disability claim and recommended that it be accepted, SWIF employees Flemming and Bensley determined that the claim required further investigation to certify that Plaintiff's injuries were work-related. Therefore, SWIF issued Plaintiff a "Notice of Compensation Denial" on November 20, 1995, and suspended payment of his medical expenses.
The Notice of Compensation Denial explained that Plaintiff's claim was being denied because SWIF could not conclude that his injuries were work-related. The denial also instructed the Plaintiff to cooperate further in the investigation of his claim. Plaintiff underwent an independent medical examination on December 8, 1995, pursuant to Section 314 of the Act, 77 P.S. § 651 (Purdon's 1992).
When further efforts to process his claim proved fruitless, Plaintiff filed a formal petition for benefits on January 15, 1996, pursuant to Section 402 of the Act, 77 P.S. § 711 (Purdon's 1992). Plaintiff sought total disability benefits, medical expenses, and counsel fees. SWIF denied all substantive allegations in the petition. Soon thereafter, Plaintiff filed the instant civil rights action claiming that SWIF had unjustifiably denied him workmen's compensation benefits in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Workmen's Compensation Act. Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants had unreasonably denied him benefits and had failed to respond to several requests for an explanation for his denial.
After Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, SWIF accepted his workmen's compensation claim and issued him a "Notice of Compensation Payable" on March 1, 1996. Thus, at a hearing on April 11, 1996, Worker's Compensation Judge Seymour Nathanson ruled that the issue of Plaintiff's entitlement to total disability benefits had become moot. Judge Nathanson conducted an additional hearing on July 25, 1996, however, to consider the reasonableness of SWIF's actions as well as Plaintiff's petition for costs and penalties.
On January 10, 1997, Judge Nathanson issued a decision denying Plaintiff's requests for costs and penalties. Judge Nathanson ruled that SWIF had reasonably contested Plaintiff's disability claim and had complied with the Workmen's Compensation Act and applicable regulations. Judge Nathanson's decision is appealable to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, then to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and by petition to the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts. See 77 P.S. § 853 (Purdon's 1992); 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 724(a) & 763(a)(1) (Purdon's 1981); and 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a) (1993).
The Court will first consider whether the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiff's complaint against the State Workmen's Insurance Board, the State Workmen's Insurance Fund, and the individual defendants acting in their official capacities. Next, the Court will consider whether Plaintiff has established the existence of any element essential to his due process claim against the individually named defendants in their individual capacities. Finally, the Court will consider whether it will exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claim.
A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity
The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against any one of the United States by citizens of another State, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
While the amendment does not explicitly so state, the United States Supreme Court has often held that the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against a state by its own citizens. See, e.g., Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98, 79 L. Ed. 2d 67, 104 S. Ct. 900 (1984); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63, 39 L. Ed. 2d 662, 94 S. Ct. 1347 (1974); Parden v. Terminal Ry. of the Alabama State Docks Dep't, 377 U.S. 184, 12 L. Ed. 2d 233, 84 S. Ct. 1207 (1964); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 33 L. Ed. 842, 10 S. Ct. 504 (1890).
States may consent to be sued in federal court, thereby waiving their Eleventh Amendment immunity, but Pennsylvania has not done so. Pennsylvania has explicitly retained its Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute:
Nothing contained in this subchapter [on civil actions against Commonwealth parties] shall be construed to waive the immunity of the Commonwealth from suit in Federal courts guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.