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Knight v. Kaminski

March 10, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conaboy



Wade Knight, an inmate presently confined at the Allenwood United States Penitentiary, White Deer, Pennsylvania (USPAllenwood), initiated this pro se action. The complaint sets forth Bivens*fn1 -type civil rights allegations and also seeks relief under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

Named as Defendants are the following USP-Allenwood officials: Warden Troy Williamson; Case Manager Jonathan Kaminski; Lieutenant David Andino; Lieutenant Louis Caprio; Lieutenant George Nye; Senior Office Specialist Mark Gula; Correctional Officer Steven Valencik; Lieutenant Michael Quijada; Associate Warden Michael Orn; and Secretary Amilene Wachter.*fn2

Plaintiff initially states that Case Manager Kaminski "falsified and misused his authority against Plaintiff" on several occasions. Doc. 1, Statement of Claim, ¶ 1. As a result of Kaminski's purported actions, Defendant Orn escorted Knight from the prison's main dining hall to the Lieutenants' office holding cell on June 9, 2004. While in the holding cell, Plaintiff alleges that he was "verbally" threatened by Defendant Nye "for no justifiable reason." Id. at ¶ 3. Thereafter, Defendant Wachter, a secretary, opened the holding cell door permitting the entry of Defendants Nye, Caprio, Quijada, Valencik, Andino, and Gula. According to the complaint, those Defendants proceeded to physically attack Knight. Following the assault, the participating correctional officers allegedly filed falsified written accounts of the incident which were subsequently used as the basis for initiation of disciplinary charges against Knight. Later that same day, Warden Williamson ordered that Knight be placed in hard ambulatory restraints. Plaintiff seeks punitive and compensatory damages.

Presently pending is Defendants' motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment. See Doc. 28. The motion has been briefed and is ripe for consideration.


Defendants' dispositive motion raises the following arguments: (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to his civil rights claims regarding staff misconduct, excessive force, due process violations, and cruel and unusual punishment; (2) Knight's challenge to his disciplinary proceedings is not cognizable under Bivens; and (3) Plaintiff's claims of negligence and constitutional misconduct cannot be asserted under the FTCA.

Standard of Review

The Defendants' motion is accompanied by evidentiary materials [documents] outside the pleadings which are relevant for purposes of both determining the issue of administrative exhaustion as well as their alternative arguments. Rule 12(b) provides in part as follows:

If, on a motion asserting the defense numbered (6) to dismiss for failure of the pleading to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). The Court will not exclude the evidentiary materials [documents] accompanying Defendants' motion. Thus, their motion will be treated as solely seeking summary judgment.

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 affect ...

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