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Wolfgang v. Smithers

September 1, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure



The remaining Plaintiff in this pro se civil rights action is Eric John Wolfgang ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined at the Retreat State Correctional Institution, Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Retreat").*fn1 Wolfgang's amended complaint named as Defendants various SCI-Retreat officials and Physician's Assistant ("PA") James Updyke.

On February 12, 2004, Defendant Updyke's motion to dismiss Wolfgang's amended complaint was partially granted. A September 26, 2005 Memorandum and Order by this Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants Joseph Mataloni, Darla Sherman, and Doctor Diaz. Wolfgang's surviving claim against PA Updyke contends that said Defendant failed to provide him with adequate medical care for his work related injuries. By way of background, the Remaining Plaintiff alleges that he was injured as a result of purportedly unsafe working conditions which exist in the SCI-Retreat Correctional Industries laundry ("CI laundry") . Wolfgang allegedly suffered headaches, nose bleeds, red blotches on his skin, dizziness and stomach problems. His amended complaint seeks injunctive relief as well as punitive, compensatory, and nominal damages. Presently pending before this Court is Updyke's motion requesting entry of summary judgment.*fn2 See Record document no. 155. The motion has been briefed and is ripe for consideration.


PA Updyke claims entitlement to summary judgment on the grounds that:

(1) any conduct occurring prior to January 8, 2001 is barred by the applicable statute of limitations; (2)Wolfgang failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (3) the Remaining Plaintiff has not established that he suffered from a serious medical need; and (4) Updyke was not deliberately indifferent to Wolfgang's medical condition.

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 the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of summary judgment. Id. In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the entire record must be examined in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.

Statute of Limitations

By Memorandum and Order dated March 26, 2004, all of Wolfgang's claims which transpired prior to April 10, 2000 were deemed to be time barred under Pennsylvania's applicable statute of limitations. Updyke presently argues that any claim stemming from conduct which occurred prior to January 8, 2001 is time barred.

A federal court in reviewing the applicability of the statute of limitations to an action filed pursuant to § 1983, must apply the appropriate state statute of limitations which governs personal injury actions. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Cito v. Bridgewater Twp. Police Dep't, 892 F.2d 23, 25 (3d Cir. 1989). The United States Supreme Court clarified its decision in Wilson when it held that "courts considering ยง 1983 claims should ...

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