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TOOLASPRASHAD v. BUREAU OF PRISONS

September 2, 2005.

LATCHMIE TOOLASPRASHAD, Plaintiff,
v.
BUREAU OF PRISONS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MALCOLM MUIR, Senior District Judge

ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

On July 30, 1999, Plaintiff Latchmie Toolasprashad, an inmate in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, filed this action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The proceedings in that court included the filing of dispositive motions and an appeal by Toolasprashad to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. See Toolasprashad v. Bureau of Prisons, 286 F.3d 576 (D.C. Cir. 2002). Toolasprashad is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis.

  As a result of the rulings in those courts, all but one of Toolasprashad's claims were resolved in favor of the Defendants. In his only remaining claim, Toolasprashad alleges that the Bureau of Prisons violated the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, when it transferred him to a correctional institution far from his parents' home, and it reclassified him as a "special offender" based upon false information in a Bureau of Prisons's memorandum.

  On October 18, 2002, the Federal Bureau of Prisons filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia a motion for summary judgment with respect to that claim or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to this court. By order dated July 29, 2003, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia transferred the matter to this court. In its order the court "decline[d] to reach the merits of the case and therefore [left] resolution of the summary judgment motion to the transferee court." (Order of July 29, 2003, p. 2, n. 1)

  The Clerk of Court assigned this case to us but referred it to Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser for consideration. Although the order transferring this case was entered on July 29, 2003, the case file was not received in this court until March 22, 2005. On April 15, 2005, Magistrate Judge Smyser filed a report recommending that the summary judgment motion be granted and the case closed.

  After being granted an extension of time in which to do so, on July 18, 2005, Toolasprashad filed the following documents: 1) "Plaintiff's Request to Accept Overlength [sic] Combined Objections and Brief to the Report and Recommendation and Notice to Court"; 2) "Plaintiff's Combined Objections and Brief to the Report and Recommendation"; and 3) exhibits in support of those objections. On August 2, 2005, the Bureau of Prisons filed a brief opposing Toolasprashad's objections. On August 3, 2005, Toolasprashad filed "Plaintiff's Supplemental Motion and Brief To Plaintiff's Combined Objections and Brief to the Report and Recommendation." On August 11, 2005, Toolasprashad filed "Plaintiff's Second Supplemental Combined Motion and Brief to Plaintiff's Combined Objections and Brief to the Report and Recommendation." On August 22, 2005, Toolasprashad filed a reply brief, thereby ripening his objections for disposition.

  When objections are filed to a report of a Magistrate Judge, we make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge to which there are objections. United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); M.D. Pa. Local Rule 72.31. Furthermore, district judges have wide discretion as to how they treat recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. Id. In providing for a de novo review determination rather than a de novo hearing, Congress intended to permit whatever reliance a district judge, in the exercise of sound discretion, chooses to place on a Magistrate Judge's proposed findings and recommendations. Id. See also Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 275 (1976); Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir. 1984).

  As a threshold matter we note that the Bureau of Prisons has not objected to the length of Toolasprashad's combined objections and supporting brief (consisting of forty-two pages) or to the documents he filed on August 3, 2005 (entitled "Plaintiff's Supplemental Motion and Brief To Plaintiff's Combined Objections and Brief to the Report and Recommendation"), or the document filed on August 11, 2005 (labeled "Plaintiff's Second Supplemental Combined Motion and Brief to Plaintiff's Combined Objections and Brief to the Report and Recommendation"). In the absence of any objection to those documents, and in light of Toolasprashad's pro se status, we will reluctantly consider those filings in their entirety in our de novo review of the Bureau of Prisons's motion for summary judgment.

  Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact which is unresolved and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences which a fact finder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). "When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in . . . [Rule 56], an adverse party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading. . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

  Initially, the moving party has a burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This may be met by the moving party pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325.

  Rule 56 provides that, where such a motion is made and properly supported, the adverse party must show by affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The United States Supreme Court has commented that this requirement is tantamount to the non-moving party making a sufficient showing as to the essential elements of his or her case that a reasonable jury could find in its favor. Celotex Corporation vs. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

  When addressing a motion for such a judgment, our inquiry focuses on "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986) (emphasis added). As summarized by the Advisory Committee On Civil Rules, "[t]he very mission of the summary judgment procedure is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee note to 1963 Amendment. We will apply those principles to the Bureau of Prisons's motion for summary judgment. Before doing so, however, we will set forth the undisputed material facts relating to Toolasprashad's sole remaining claim.

  Toolasprashad arrived at the Federal Correction Institution at Allenwood (hereinafter "Allenwood") on October 17, 1994. On January 27, 1995, he received an Incident report charging him with, inter alia, "insolence towards staff." The underlying incident is described in the report as follows:
On 01/27/95 at approximately 09:10 a.m. I was giving Inmate Toolasprashad a legal call. I informed him that he could call his lawyer but not his congressman as he requested. Inmate Toolasprashad became irate stating I'll get you motherfuckers give me a BP8.
(January 27, 1995, Incident report, p. 1) The Disciplinary Hearing Officer ...

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