The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge
Before the court for disposition are a motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendants D. Scott Dodrill, Joeseph Smith,
T.R. Snziezk, and Barbara Clay, as well as Plaintiff Freddie
Francis' cross motions for summary judgment. These matters have
been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. For the
following reasons, we will grant the defendants' motion for
summary judgment and enter judgment on their behalf.
Francis is a federal prisoner incarcerated at the United States
Prison at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USP-Lewisburg"). On August 2,
2004, he filed a complaint instituting the present action against
D. Scott Dodrill, the Regional Director of the Bureau of Prisons,
Joseph Smith, the USP-Lewisburg Warden, T.R. Sniezk, the
Assistant Warden, and Captain Becky Clay*fn1 (collectively
"Defendants"). Francis alleges that he was improperly transferred
to USP-Lewisburg's Special Management Unit ("SMU"). He was
transferred because of his involvement with a gang, although he claims he was never involved
in gang activity. He was not provided with notice or a hearing
prior to his transfer. He claims that the SMU program is run
without a proper policy or without congressional authorization.
He alleges that his placement in the SMU program violates his
Fifth Amendment due process rights, and constitutes cruel and
unusual punishment in violation of his Eight Amendment rights.
Granting summary judgment is proper 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 judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v.
Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n. 4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing FED. R.
CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not
defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. v.
Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The
burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). A fact is
material when it might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law. Id. Where the non-moving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment
may meet its burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to
admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the
non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies its burden,
the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond its
pleadings, and designate specific facts by the use of affidavits,
depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.
The defendants present three grounds for their motion. First,
they argue that Francis fails to produce evidence of their
personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violations.
Second, they argue that Francis's placement in the SMU does not
implicate his due process rights because it is not a punitive
unit. Third, they argue that they are entitled to qualified
immunity. Francis has filed cross motions for summary judgment.
We will grant summary judgment for the defendants on the first
two arguments, and thus need not address qualified immunity.
Francis claims that his placement in the SMU violates his
constitutional rights under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Clause and the Due Process Clause. A claim for violations of
constitutional rights is actionable pursuant to Bivens v. Six
Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971) and is the federal counterpart to
42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn2 To state a claim for a violation of the Cruel and Unusual
Punishment Clause, a prisoner must demonstrate that "he has been
deprived of `the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities'
. . . and that a prison official acted with deliberate
indifference in subjecting him to that deprivation." Griffin v.
Vaughn, 112 F.3d 703, 709 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting Young v.
Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 359 (1992)). A violation of the Due
Process Clause involves the following three elements: "1) the
claimant must be `deprived' of a protectable interest; 2) that
deprivation must be due to some government action; and 3) the
deprivation must be without due process." Cospito v. Heckler,
742 F.2d 72, 80 (3d Cir. 1984). To establish liability under
Bivens, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendants were
personally involved in the deprivation of his rights, and the
theory of respondeat superior is not a basis for liability.
See Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1208 (3d Cir. 1988)
("A defendant in a civil rights action must have personal
involvement in the alleged wrongs; liability cannot be predicated
solely on the operation of respondeat superior.").*fn3
Francis has produced no evidence that Defendants Becky Clay, D.
Scott Dodrill, or T.R. Snziezck were involved in his placement in the SMU, and instead
relies on the doctrine of respondeat superior. Francis'
exhibits contain no allegations regarding these individual
defendants, and his evidence does not reference them in any way.
Thus, we find that Francis has not created a genuine issue of
material fact that these defendants violated his constitutional
rights, and we will grant summary judgment. Francis has, however,
submitted a letter from Defendant Warden Joseph Smith, providing
that his placement in the SMU would be reevaluated. Thus, he has
created a genuine issue of material fact that Smith had
sufficient personal involvement in his placement in the SMU, and
we will not grant summary judgment for Smith on this
The defendants also argue that Francis' placement in the SMU
does not implicate his due process rights. We agree. A due
process liberty interest "in avoiding particular conditions of
confinement may arise from state policies or regulations."
Wilkinson v. Austin, 125 S. Ct. 2384, 2393 (2005). The Due
Process Clause protects a prisoner's right to "freedom from
restraint, which, while not exceeding the sentence in such an
unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due
Process Clause of its own force, nonetheless imposes atypical ...