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McKINNEY v. U.S.

September 23, 2005.

DAVID ANTHONY McKINNEY Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES McCLURE, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

David Anthony McKinney ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois ("USP-Marion"), filed this combined civil rights/Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") action. Originally named as Defendants were United States Attorney General John Ashcroft; Kathleen Hawk-Sawyer, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP); USP-Marion Warden E.A. Stepp and thirteen (13) officials at McKinney's prior place of confinement, the Allenwood United States Penitentiary, White Deer, Pennsylvania ("USP-Allenwood").

  By Memorandum and Order dated January 16, 2004, the Defendants' motion to dismiss was granted in part. The civil rights portion of the complaint was dismissed as being barred by the applicable statue of limitations. However, McKinney's FTCA claims were allowed to proceed and the United States of America was substituted as sole Defendant.

  According to the complaint, on May 18, 2000, Correctional Officer Simpler handcuffed the Plaintiff and escorted him to Lieutenant Noone. Upon their arrival at the front of the prison's Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), Noone took the handcuffs from Simpler and directed McKinney towards the SHU Property Room. McKinney alleges that he was subsequently knocked unconscious when Correctional Officer T. Burke forced him into the Property Room and "slammed me down to the floor."*fn1 Record document no. 1, ΒΆ IV. After regaining consciousness, Burke instructed McKinney to look out the window where he saw J. Fenney smiling at him. The complaint adds that at this juncture "the attacker took out his knife and attempted to kill me." Id.

  When the Plaintiff began pleading for his life, Burke ceased the attack and told McKinney that the assault had been ordered by Original Defendants R. Eldridge and Fenney. However, Burke resumed the beating when Fenney began banging on the window. Specifically, the guard purportedly slammed Plaintiff's head into the Property Room door. After leaving the Property Room, Burke pushed McKinney into the walls of the common area of the SHU. Burke proceeded to throw the prisoner to the floor with the assistance of other correctional staff. It is alleged that Burke then pulled Plaintiff's left elbow in an upward motion with such force that the prisoner suffered a fracture to his left arm.

  When McKinney informed Lieutenant Arrington that he had been assaulted, Arrington purportedly ordered that a videotape taken of the attack be erased. Lieutenant Gonzales subsequently served McKinney with an incident report regarding the altercation, took his statement and indicated that he would look into the incident. Plaintiff claims that neither Gonzales, Warden Mendez nor the BOP took any corrective action. The complaint further alleged that McKinney was intentionally delayed needed treatment for his broken left arm.

  Following the incident, Plaintiff was subjected to additional verbal threats and physical abuse by Defendants Burke and Matlack. His remaining contention asserts that he was assaulted by unidentified correctional staff following his arrival at USP-Marion. McKinney seeks monetary damages and a transfer from USP-Marion to another correctional facility.

  Presently pending is the Defendants' motion requesting entry of summary judgment. The motion (Record document no. 48) has been briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons outlined below, the motion will be granted.

  Discussion

  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 "genuine only if a reasonable jury, considering the evidence presented could find for the nonmoving party." Childers v. Joseph, 842 F.2d 689, 693-94 (3d Cir. 1988). Only disputes over facts that might ...


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