Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bullock v. Ashcroft

June 15, 2006

JAMES A. BULLOCK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN ASHCROFT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

I. Background

James A. Bullock, an inmate at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersvile, Pennsylvania, originally filed this pro se Bivens*fn1 civil rights complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The matter was transferred to this Court on December 7, 2004. Prior to screening the complaint, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Doc. 5). In the amended complaint Plaintiff claimed that while previously incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Allenwood (USP-Allenwood), White Deer, Pennsylvania, staff members there conspired to deny him adequate medical care. Named as Defendants were former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft; Harley G. Lappiri; Troy Williamson, Warden at the United States Penitentiary at Allenwood (USP-Allenwood); HSA Administrator Ronald Laino; and Deven Chanmugen, M.D. An Order was issued on January 7, 2005, directing service of the first amended complaint. Defendants thereafter sought an enlargement of time within which to respond to the amended complaint which was granted by the Court on March 17, 2005. Prior to the filing by Defendants of their response to the amended complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, along with a copy of the proposed amended document attached as an exhibit. On May 13, 2005, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on Plaintiff's first amended complaint. By Order dated October 14, 2005 (Doc. 32), the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to file the second amended complaint, and the proposed amended document attached to the motion was accepted by the Court. (Doc. 23, Att. 1.) The only Defendant named in the second amended complaint is physician's assistant Holtzapple. Consequently, Defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on Plaintiff's first amended complaint was dismissed as moot.

On January 17, 2006, Defendant Holtzapple filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's second amended complaint. A brief in support of the motion and a statement of uncontested facts have also been submitted. Having received no response from Plaintiff to the motion, the Court issued an Order on February 17, 2006 (Doc. 45), directing Plaintiff to file a counter-statement of the facts and a brief in opposition to the motion within twenty (20) days from the date of the Order. Plaintiff's copy of the Order was returned to the Court as undeliverable, and then re-mailed to Plaintiff at his correct address on February 24, 2006. (Doc. 48.)

Plaintiff thereafter filed a third amended complaint on March 2, 2006 (Doc. 50) and a fourth amended complaint on March 20, 2006 (Doc. 57). Each of the complaints were on the Court's form civil rights complaint, and submitted without requesting leave of Court to file the complaints or Defendant's consent to do so. On March 22, 2006, Plaintiff filed a document entitled "Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Brief" (Doc. 58), which he clearly intends to be his brief in opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's second amended complaint. In addition to Defendant Holtzapple's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment relating to the second amended complaint and Plaintiff's two dangling amended complaints, also pending are the following motions filed by Plaintiff: motion for hearing (Doc. 39); motion "under proffer agreement to all Defendants" (Doc. 55), construed by the Court as a motion for settlement; and third motion for appointment of counsel (Doc. 56). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion for hearing and Defendant's motion to dismiss will be denied, Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted, the third and fourth amended complaints will be stricken, and the remaining motions will be denied as moot.

II. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Third and Fourth Amended Complaints

If the Court were to accept Plaintiff's third and/or fourth amended complaints, Defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative for summary judgment with respect to the second amended complaint will be rendered moot. Thus, the Court must first address the propriety of these documents. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), "[a] party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served . . . Otherwise a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint of right under the provisions of Rule 15(a), and he properly obtained leave of Court to file his second amended complaint. However, since Plaintiff's third and fourth amended complaints were filed without leave of court and without written consent of Defendant, these pleadings will be stricken.

B. Motion to Dismiss

In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true. White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). Moreover, a motion to dismiss may only be granted if there is no reasonable reading of the facts that would entitle Plaintiff to relief. Lum v. Bank of America, 361 F.3d 217, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). The Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, the exhibits attached thereto, matters of public record, and "undisputedly authentic" documents. See Angstadt v. Midd-West School Dist., 377 F.3d 338, 342 (3d Cir. 2004); Pension Guar. Corp. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 908 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Since Defendant's motion goes beyond the facts set forth in the complaint and relies upon supplemental documentation submitted with the brief in support of the motion, the motion to dismiss will be denied and the motion considered on summary judgment.

C. Motion for Summary Judgment

Pursuant to 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 249-50 (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 the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.