The opinion of the court was delivered by: BERLE M. SCHILLER, District Judge
Plaintiff Jose Medina commenced this civil rights action under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Philadelphia, Warden Reginald
Hammond, Deputy Warden Marco Giannetta, Sergeant George McNally,
Corrections Officer Augustine Arroyo and Corrections Officer Joseph
Moore.*fn1 In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that while he was
incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"),
Defendants searched his cell and unlawfully confiscated his manuscript
and read his mail in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to
the United States Constitution and the prison's mail policy. Presently
before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c).*fn2 For the reasons set forth
below, Defendants' motion is granted. I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
At all times relevant to this action, Plaintiff was incarcerated at
CFCF. Before he was incarcerated, Plaintiff had been working on a
manuscript about the Latin Kings, a group formed in Chicago in 1949.
(Pl.'s Dep. at 16, 44.) Although the Latin Kings are commonly referred to
as a "gang," Plaintiff claims it is "an organization, people who just
work together to help people." (Id. at 49.) Because Plaintiff is
not a member of the Latin Kings, he gathered information for his book
through interviews with current members before he was incarcerated.
(Id. at 48.)
When he entered CFCF, Plaintiff asked his mother to send him the
manuscript so that he could continue working on it while incarcerated.
(Id. at 16.) On February 27, 2003, shortly after Plaintiff
received the manuscript in the mail, Defendants McNally and Arroyo came
to his cell and informed him that they were going to search for
cigarettes. (Id. at 20.) Arroyo picked up a pack of mail within
Plaintiff's cell and began looking through the letters. (Id.)
Arroyo then pulled out a yellow envelope marked "legal mail"*fn3 which
contained Plaintiff's writings and said, "Here it is," to McNally.
(Id. at 20-21, 24.) Plaintiff asked why the officers were taking
his mail and they informed him that it violated prison policy.
(Id. at 21.)
Approximately eight months later, on October 1, 2003, Defendants
McNally and Moore confiscated a second manuscript from Plaintiff's cell.
(Id. at 40.) This second manuscript was confiscated pursuant to
a "major shakedown."*fn4 (Id.) Plaintiff stated that this
second set of materials was to become part of the same book as the first manuscript
(Id. at 40-41.) After this lawsuit was filed, Plaintiff alleges
that he suffered various forms of retaliation, including being relieved
of his job and being denied access to the law library and school
facilities. (Id. at 71.)
Summary judgment is appropriate when the admissible evidence fails to
demonstrate a dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c) (1994);Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). When the moving
party does not bear the burden of persuasion at trial, the moving party
may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving
party's evidence is insufficient to carry its burden of persuasion at
trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
Thereafter, the nonmoving party demonstrates a genuine issue of material
fact if sufficient evidence is provided to allow a reasonable jury to
find for him at trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In order to
meet this burden, the opposing party must point to specific, affirmative
evidence in the record and not simply rely on mere allegations,
conclusory or vague statements, or general denials in the pleadings.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. In reviewing the record, "a court must
view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and
draw all inferences in that party's favor." Armbruster v. Unisys
Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 777 (3d Cir. 1994). Furthermore, a court may not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in making its
determination. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also Goodman v. Pa. Tpk. Comm'n,
293 F.3d 655, 665 (3d Cir. 2002). III. DISCUSSION
Plaintiff brings his claims for constitutional violations pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, which requires him to demonstrate that a person
acting under color of state law deprived him of a federal right.
Gorman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir.
1995). Defendants do not dispute that they are state actors for purposes
of § 1983. The issue, therefore, is whether Defendants' conduct
violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights.
A. Claims Against Defendants in their Individual Capacities
Plaintiff brings claims against Defendants Hammond, Giannetta, McNally,
Arroyo, and Moore in their individual capacities. Claims against
government officials in their individual capacities seek to impose
personal liability upon a government officer for actions taken under
color of state law. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991). Thus,
to establish individual liability in a § 1983 action, a plaintiff
must "show that the official, acting under color of state law, caused the
deprivation of a federal right." Id. As the Third Circuit has
made clear, "[a] defendant in a civil rights action must have personal
involvement in the alleged wrongs" to be held liable. Sutton v.
Rasheed, 323 F.3d 236, 249 (3d Cir. 2003) (quoting Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988)). Personal
involvement can be shown through allegations of personal direction or of
actual knowledge and acquiescence. Rode, 845 F.2d at 1207.
Although Hammond and Giannetta were sued in their individual
capacities, Plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence that either of
these Defendants were personally involved in the alleged wrongs. In his
response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff fails to
differentiate between the claims against these Defendants in their
official and individual capacities, subsuming all discussion of these
Defendants under the heading "Monell Claim." In his discussion of this
claim, Plaintiff fails to present any evidence that either Hammond or
Giannetta were personally involved in the censorship or reading of his
mail, the confiscation of his manuscripts, or any alleged retaliatory
behavior. Furthermore, Plaintiff fails to provide record evidence that
either Hammond or Giannetta were actually aware of the events at issue.
See id. at 1208 (noting that mere filing of grievances or
complaints with official's office is not enough to show actual
knowledge). Plaintiff notes only that these Defendants "were responsible
for running the prison." (Pl.'s Resp. at 20.) As respondeat superior is
not a basis for liability under § 1983, Mabine v. Vaughn,
25 F. Supp.2d 587, 592 (E.D. Pa. 1998), and in the absence of any other
basis for liability, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Hammond and
Giannetta in their individual capacities are dismissed from this suit.
Accordingly, the remainder of the Court's analysis of the
individual-capacity claims relates only to Defendants McNally, Arroyo,
1. Confiscation of Manuscript in Violation of First
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants McNally, Arroyo, and Moore
confiscated his Latin Kings manuscript in violation of his First
Amendment rights. Defendants move for summary judgment arguing that
Plaintiff's manuscripts were ...