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Ferreiras v. York County

March 1, 2006

LUIS FERREIRAS, PLAINTIFF
v.
YORK COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

This civil rights action was initiated by Luis Ferreiras ("Plaintiff") regarding his prior detention by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the York County Prison, York, Pennsylvania. Ferreiras is represented by counsel.

As a result of a March 15, 2005 case management conference, the Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint was granted and his proposed amended complaint (Record document no. 18) was accepted. By Memorandum and Order dated July 18, 2005, Secretary Tom Ridge's motion to dismiss was granted.

The remaining Defendants named in the amended complaint are York County; Commissioner James Donahue of the York County Prison Board of Inspectors; and the following officials of the York County Prison: Warden Thomas Hogan, Deputy Warden Roger Thomas, and Complaint Supervisor Beata Erni (hereinafter the "York County Defendants"). Ferreiras is also proceeding against Prison Health Services ("PHS"), a correctional healthcare services organization. All of the York County Defendants are named in their individual and official capacities.

Ferreiras is a former ICE detainee who was confined in the York County Prison from "approximately October, 2002 to March, 2003." Record document no. 18, ¶ 11. The Plaintiff was released from ICE custody in July, 2004. While housed at the York County Prison, Ferreiras requested treatment "for broken and decayed teeth that were causing him pain" and to have "a broken partial replaced." Id. at ¶ 14. As a result of his dental problems, Plaintiff contends that he had difficulty eating, a problem purportedly heightened by the fact that he is HIV positive.

During early December, 2002, Ferreiras maintains that his request for dental treatment was denied. As a result, Plaintiff initiated an institutional grievance. In a December 13, 2002 response to the grievance, Complaint Supervisor Erni informed Plaintiff that due to his federal detainee status, he would have to wait one year before becoming eligible for dental services. Following an administrative appeal, Deputy Warden Thomas issued a reply on December 20, 2002 noting that Plaintiff had insisted on having his partial replaced and refused to have it repaired. Thomas' response also stated that a request for a denture filling had been sent to the ICE for approval. Furthermore, Thomas purportedly added that because Ferreiras' condition was not serious it did not require immediate attention and that he would have to be incarcerated for one (1) year before the ICE would consider approval of his request for dental work.

Plaintiff filed a further administrative appeal with the York County Commissioners. On January 15, 2003, the Assistant York County Solicitor partially granted this appeal by referring Ferreiras' request for dental treatment to the Complaint Review Board. Before any further action could be taken, Plaintiff was transferred to a different correctional facility.

The amended complaint contends that the policy or practice of requiring the Plaintiff to wait one (1) year before being afforded dental treatment violates the Eighth Amendment. As relief, Ferreiras seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.*fn1

Presently pending is a summary judgment motion filed by the York County Defendants. See Record document no. 19. Plaintiff was granted until November 28, 2005 in which to file a response to that dispositive motion. By Order dated November 14, 2005, Plaintiff's obligation of filing a response to the York County Defendants' motion for summary judgment insofar as it pertains to Defendant York County was deferred pending further order of Court. The motion (with exception of the arguments pertaining to Defendant York County) has been briefed and is ripe for consideration.

Discussion

A. 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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