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Woodruff v. Booth

February 21, 2007

KEVIN-PAUL WOODRUFF, PLAINTIFF,
v.
A. J. BOOTH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Kevin-Paul Woodruff, an inmate at the United State Penitentiary in Lewisburg ("USP-Lewisburg"), Pennsylvania, commenced this pro se action by filing a Bivens*fn1 civil rights complaint (Doc. 1). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a "Motion of Joinder of Claims and Remedies" (Doc. 14), which the Court accepted as a first amended complaint. (See Doc. 17). Defendants are the following officials at USP-Lewisburg: Mailroom Supervisor Chambers, A. J. Booth, and "John and Jane Does 1 to 50"*fn2 (Doc 1 at 1; Doc. 14 at 3-4.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants have interfered with his incoming and outgoing mail. He seeks monetary damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, incidental damages, costs of suit, and attorney's fees. (Doc. 14 at 2.) Presently pending is Chambers and Booth's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (Doc. 38) and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion as Untimely (Doc. 24). The motions have been briefed and they is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion will be denied and Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted.

II. Discussion

A. Timeliness of Defendants' Motion

Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, based upon a contention that Defendants' Motion was untimely filed. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Joinder of Claims, which was construed as a Motion For Leave to File an amended Complaint, and the Motion was granted by Order of this Court dated November 28, 2006 (Doc. 17). Thereafter, the amended complaint was served on Defendants on December 1, 2006. (Doc. 32 at 2.) Under the provisions of Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a), Defendants had a period of ten (10) days from December 1, 2006 to file a response to the Amended Complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). Although Plaintiff appears to believe that this period contemplates ten calendar days, "[w]hen the period of time prescribed or allowed is less than 11 days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays shall be excluded in the computation." Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a). Thus, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, For Summary Judgment, filed on December 15, 2006, was timely. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion will be denied.

B. Motion to Dismiss Standard

Defendants' motion to dismiss is based upon a contention that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust administrative remedies. 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). Since Defendants' motion relies upon supplemental documentation attached to the motion, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be denied.

C. Summary Judgment Standard

Defendants also move for summary judgment, again based upon a contention that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The Court agrees. Under 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." 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 a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Mraz v. County of Lehigh, 862 F. Supp. 1344 (E.D. Pa. 1994). "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 249-250 (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, our inquiry focuses on "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52 (emphasis added).

D. Exhaustion Requirement

Under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a):

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under Section 1979 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (42 U.S.C. 1983), or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility ...


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