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BRANTHAFER v. BLACK

September 15, 2005.

ALLEN P. BRANTHAFER, JR., Plaintiff
v.
DUANE I. BLACK, ET AL., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN E. JONES, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

Allen Branthafer ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Graterford, Pennsylvania, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as Defendants are the following officials at the Plaintiff's prior place of confinement, the Huntingdon County Correctional Facility, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania: Warden Duane Black; Deputy Warden Darrell Bair; Nurse Judy Hoffmaster; Sergeant Joe Booher; and Correctional Officers George Green, Ronnie Stewart, Fred Morgan, Chris Woodward, and Dale Morgan.

  The complaint initially alleges that on or about July 16, 2000, Plaintiff "slipped in water coming from the shower it [sic] the booking area." Doc. 1, ¶ IV(1). Branthafer states that he fell against the bars of his cell and injured his eye. He generally alleges that he was denied medical treatment "at that time" by unidentified prison officials. Id. His resulting injuries purportedly included vison loss and a scar.*fn1

  In his second claim, Plaintiff avers that after "seeking legal help about my eye" Sergeant Booher transferred him to an unheated holding cell on January 23, 2001. Id. at (2). He remained in this holding cell along with two other inmates until "about" January 30, 2001.*fn2 Id. at (3). Unnamed correctional officers also purportedly retaliated against Branthafer on January 23, 2001 by removing his blanket, privileged legal documents, and personal hygiene items from the cell. Plaintiff adds that the holding cell was so cold that he and his cellmates were unable to sleep for five (5) days. The unidentified officers returned his legal documents and hygiene items the next day. However, his mattress was removed from the holding cell by unidentified officers later that same day. During this same time period, Branthafer further claims that his clothing was taken and the water in the holding cell was turned off.

  On January 28, 2001, Correctional Officers Stewart and Green allegedly threw Plaintiff against the wall outside of his cell. Branthafer lacerated his arm against a button on the wall. Plaintiff notes that his arm "sustained two long scars as a result." Id. at (4). Next, Branthafer contends that Defendants Booher, Green, Fred Morgan, Woodward, and Dale Morgan "either threw or failed to protect me from the others throwing me head first into the visiting room." Id. As a result, his head and back slammed into steel seats located in the visiting room, bruising his back and ankle. Those correctional officers also purportedly confiscated his hygiene items and personal legal documents. His complaint also sets forth claims that the inmate living quarters were: dirty; had malfunctioning toilets; and lacked sufficient lighting. Plaintiff's final contention is that the prison's law library needs updating.

  By Memorandum and Order dated September 17, 2003, this Court partially granted Defendants' motion requesting entry of summary judgment. Specifically, summary judgment was granted in favor of Warden Black and Deputy Warden Bair and also with respect to Plaintiff's claims of: denial of access to the courts; lack of medical care following his July 16, 2000 slip and fall; and his request for compensatory damages regarding the conditions of confinement claims.

  Presently pending before the Court is the remaining Defendants' second motion for summary judgment. See doc. 56. The motion has been briefed and is ripe for consideration.

  Discussion

  The remaining Defendants claim entitlement to entry of summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiff has not shown that he suffered any physical injury as a result of the alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement; (2) the conditions of his holding cell confinement were constitutionally acceptable; (3) defendant Hoffmaster is entitled to entry of summary judgment based on the prior dismissal of Plaintiff's claim of deliberate indifference to any serious medical needs; and (4) Branthafer's allegations of retaliation are insufficient because there was a legitimate penological interest for the actions taken against him and his cellmates.

  Standard of Review

  Summary judgment is appropriate if the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, together with 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

 
[T]he 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. In such a situation, 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. 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. "[T]he standard [for granting summary judgment] mirrors the standard for a directed verdict under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a). . . ."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, (1986). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. The moving party can discharge that burden by "`showing' . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, supra, 106 S.Ct. at 2553 and 2554. Once the moving party has satisfied its burden, the nonmoving party must present "affirmative evidence" to defeat the motion, consisting of verified or documented materials. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 257 (1986). Issues of fact are ...

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