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Stokes v. Cywinski

April 12, 2006

WILLIE STOKES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LT. JEFFREY E. CYWINSKI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conaboy

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Before this Court is Lt. Jeffrey E. Cywinski's, et al., ("Defendants"), Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 94). Defendants seek to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Lavan and Stachelek. Additionally, Defendants claim they are entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's cell search claim and misconduct claim.

The motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for disposition. Based on the discussion below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

I. Background*fn1

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Cywinski, Long, Alpier and Loftus violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they used excessive force against him. (Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 10, 11, 12). On December 12, 2001, Plaintiff and his cellmate were removed from their cell and taken to the shower room by Defendants Alpier and Loftus. (Id., ¶ 13). Plaintiff claims that his hands were cuffed behind his back. (Id., ¶ 14). Defendants began questioning Plaintiff and he refused to answer their questions. (Id., ¶ 16). Plaintiff claims that defendants then called for back up and Defendants Cywinski, Long and Kross arrived with about fifteen other guards. (Id., ¶¶ 16, 17). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Cywinski ordered Defendants Alpier and Loftus to take him to the ground. (Id., ¶ 18). Thereafter, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Cywinski began to bang Plaintiff's head off the floor and choke him while Defendants Alpier, Loftus, Long and Kross kicked him. (Id., ¶ 19). Plaintiff claims that he lost consciousness and woke up in a chair being slapped by Defendant Cywinksi. (Id., ¶ 20). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Stalchelek stopped into the shower room and saw what was going on but just walked away without saying anything. (Id., ¶¶ 22, 23). Plaintiff was taken to medical where his injuries were photographed. (Id., ¶ 24).

Plaintiff was placed in the restrictive housing unit ("RHU") and was charged with assault, possession of contraband (marijuana) and disobeying orders. (Id., ¶ 25). The hearing examiner found Plaintiff guilty of all charges and he was sentenced to six months in the RHU. (Id., ¶ 26). According to Plaintiff, he was approached by a guard twenty-eight days into his six month stay in the RHU and was asked if he planned to pursue any claims against the guards involved in the alleged assault. (Id., ¶ 28).

Plaintiff claims that he was told he would be let out of the RHU is he agreed not to pursue any action. (Id., ¶¶ 28, 29, 30). Plaintiff claims that he was told to appeal his sentence to the hearing examiner. (Id., ¶ 29). Upon appeal of the hearing examiner's decision, the charges were dropped and Plaintiff was released from the RHU. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he suffers migraines as a result of this alleged incident and that his voice is not the same after being choked during the incident. (Id., ¶ 32).

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Cywinski began to harass him after he was released from the RHU. (Id., ¶ 34). Plaintiff alleges that on January 17th or 18th of 2002, Defendant Cywinski sent Defendants Alpier and Loftus to search his cell. (Id., ¶ 35). The Defendants found "wine," which Plaintiff claims was really concentrated orange juice from the commissary. (Id., ¶ 37). Defendants filled out a misconduct and Plaintiff received ninety days in the RHU and had his contact visits revoked for six months. (Id., ¶ 38). According to Plaintiff, he was approached by Counselor Dobson who told him to put in for a time cut because both he and Unit Manager Yakiel heard that Plaintiff really had orange juice in his cell and not wine. (Id., ¶ 39). Plaintiff put in for a time cut and was released between forty-five and fifty days into his ninety day sentence in the RHU. (Id., ¶ 40). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Cywinski continued to harass him. (Id., ¶ 42).

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper "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." See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-8, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986) (emphasis in original).

The Court is required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Consistent with this principle, the non-movant's evidence must be accepted as true and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor.

J.F. Feeser, Inc. v. Serv-A-Portion, Inc., 909 F.2d 1524, ...


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