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Campbell v. Beard

January 31, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane United States District Judge


I. Background

Plaintiff, Jeffrey J. Campbell, an inmate formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Waymart ("SCI-Waymart"), Pennsylvania, commenced this pro se civil rights action with a complaint filed pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Campbell alleges that SCIWaymart Prison officials and healthcare personnel conspired to deprive him of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, demonstrated deliberate indifference to his disability, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. By Order dated September 16, 2004 (Doc. 29), this Court granted the motion to dismiss two (2) of the sixteen (16) Defendants. Subsequently, the remaining fourteen (14) Defendants collectively filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 37) Plaintiff's complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. By Order dated September 15, 2005 (Doc. 48), the Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss, and Defendants' motion for summary judgment was held in abeyance pending submission of supplemental documentation from the parties related to the issue of Plaintiff's exhaustion of his administrative remedies. The parties have now submitted the supplemental documentation, and Defendants' motion for summary judgment is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment may be entered only "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of proving that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Additionally, on summary judgment, the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To preclude summary judgment, there must be a "genuine" issue of a material fact, "that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-250 (citations omitted).

Moreover, Rule 56 provides that the adverse party may not simply sit back and rest on the allegations contained in the pleadings. Rather, 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). When addressing a summary judgment motion, the Court's inquiry focuses on "whether theevidence 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, 477 U.S. at 251-52 (emphasis added).

B. Exhaustion Requirement

Defendants' contend that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies on his claims of mistreatment set forth in the complaint. With respect to the exhaustion of administrative remedies, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) provides as follows:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under Section 1979 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (42 U.S.C. 1983), or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). "This provision makes no distinction between an action for damages, injunctive relief, or both. The exhaustion requirement is mandatory, whether or not the administrative remedies afford the inmate-plaintiff the relief sought in the federal court action." Nyhuis v. Reno, 204 F.3d 65, 67 (3d Cir. 2000). Thus, prisoners are required to exhaust available administrative remedies prior to seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or any other federal law. Fortes v. Harding, 19 F. Supp. 2d 323, 325 (M.D. Pa. 1998).

Nevertheless, "[f]ailure to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense that must be pled and proven by the defendant." Brown v. Croak, 312 F.3d 109, 111 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Ray v. Kertes, 285 F.2d 287, 295 (3d Cir. 2002)). A prisoner has no duty to plead exhaustion in the complaint, and it is the Defendants' issue to support with credible evidence. Ray, 285 F.3d at 297.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has established a Consolidated Inmate Grievance Review System, policy number DC-ADM 804. With certain exceptions not applicable here, DC-ADM 804 (Doc. 52-3 at 7-19), Section VI ("Procedures") provides that, after attempted informal resolution of the problem, a written grievance may be submitted to the Grievance Coordinator; an appeal from the Coordinator's decision may be made in writing to the Facility Manager; and a final written appeal is presented to the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals. ("SOIGA"). (Id.) Such appeals shall include photocopies of the initial grievance, initial review, initial review response, and the appeal to the facility manager along with the facility manager's decision. (Id., § VI(D)(1)(h)).

In support of their motion, Defendants have submitted a declaration by SCI-Waymart Grievance Coordinator Ronald Richards. Defendants aver that a review of Department of Corrections' records establishes that Plaintiff "filed no grievances during his confinement at SCIWaymart" and they cite ΒΆ 8 of the Richards Declaration in support of the contention. (Doc. No. 39 at 5.) However, in the electronic filing of the declaration, page two of the document (apparently containing ...

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