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McNeil v. Commonwealth

March 10, 2006

ROSA L. MCNEIL, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS ADMINISTRATIRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MARRIE LINDA MCNEIL, PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conaboy

MEMORANDUM

Background Rosa L. McNeil (Plaintiff) filed this civil rights action regarding the death of her daughter, Marrie Linda McNeil (Decedent).*fn1 At the time of her death, the Decedent was a prisoner confined at the State Correctional Institution, Muncy, Pennsylvania (SCI-Muncy). This matter was transferred to this Court from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

By Memorandum and Order dated January 20, 2006, this Court granted dismissal in favor of Defendants Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") and SCI-Muncy with respect to the Plaintiff's federal claims.

The remaining Defendants include the DOC's legal counsel Randall N. Sears, Esq. and six (6) SCI-Muncy employees: Superintendent Martin L. Dragovitch; Deputy Superintendent David Patton; Health Care Coordinator Kathryn McCarty; Counselor Sue Hartman; Correctional Officer Kelly Miller; and Unit Manager Al Smith, III. Other remaining Defendants are Wexford Health Sources, Inc. and the following Wexford employees: Craig Bardell, M.D., David H. Martin, P.A., John W. Nelms, D.D.S. and six (6) John/Jane Doe nurses; the Lycoming County Coroner's Office and Deputy Coroner Charles Kesling, R.N.

Presently pending is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Lycoming County Coroner's Office and Coroner Charles Kiessling, R.N. See Doc. 30. The moving Defendants thereafter submitted a supplement wherein they noted that Plaintiff failed to file an opposing brief to their motion or a counter statement of material facts. See Doc. 34. A review of the docket confirms that neither an opposing brief nor a counter statement of material facts have been submitted by the Plaintiff.*fn2

Accordingly, the motion will be deemed unopposed. See M.D. Pa. Local Rule 7.6.

According to the complaint, the 42 year old Decedent was found dead in an SCI-Muncy holding cell on the morning of July 4, 2002 due to "willful, wanton and criminally negligent medical care." Doc. 1, ¶ 4. The Decedent had been confined at SCIMuncy for approximately 5 years and was "relatively healthy." Id. at ¶ 29.

The relevant portion of the complaint sets forth allegations that the moving Defendants were part of a conspiracy which attempted to conceal the details surrounding Inmate McNeil's death. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Kiessling performed the autopsy and then issued a death certificate "listing no cause of death, pending completion of autopsy."

Doc. 1, ¶ 78.

The complaint next contends that Plaintiff's family was told that her daughter's death was caused by a heart attack and that their requests for "necessary documents, medical reports, and autopsy reports" were denied. Id. at ¶ 83. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages based on the alleged violations of the Decedent's constitutional rights.

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 ...


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