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Sullivan v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

March 30, 2007

ANTHONY SULLIVAN, PLAINTIFF
v.
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM

BACKGROUND

Anthony Sullivan initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding his prior incarceration at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Mahanoy"). The remaining defendants are two SCIMahanoy officials, ex-Superintendent Martin Dragovich and Chief Psychologist Michael R. Youron.

Plaintiff was released from SCI-Mahanoy on December 15, 1999 after serving a total of nine years, four months, and twenty-one days. His minimum sentence had expired on January 24, 1998. His present complaint alleges he was subjected to multiple parole denials solely because he is an African-American.

In December, 1997, plaintiff was initially considered for and denied release on parole by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole ("Parole Board"). A second parole denial occurred on July 30, 1998. On February 4, 1999, plaintiff was granted parole pursuant to a proposed home plan which included a provision that plaintiff would reside with his brother in North Carolina. However, this favorable decision was temporarily suspended when the State of North Carolina refused to accept Sullivan as an interstate parole supervision case. Thereafter, on September 24, 1999, the Parole Board again granted plaintiff release based on a home plan which provided that he would reside within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In his present action, plaintiff indicates that a favorable psychological report is usually required in order to obtain a positive parole decision. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Youron directed staff psychologists at SCI-Mahanoy to alter or amend positive psychological reports for African-American inmates so they were negative and would likely lead to a parole denial. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant Dragovich condoned Youron's conduct.

On September 16, 2002, plaintiff filed a motion to compel production of certain documents, namely plaintiff's psychology reports, vote sheets from his parole applications, and other documents relevant to the parole review process. (Rec. Doc. No. 6.) Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the documents in question were confidential. (Rec. Doc. No. 8.) On April 7, 2003, we ordered defendant to provide the court with certain documents for in camera review. Then, on October 11, 2005, we directed defendants to provide plaintiff's counsel with a copy of the documents submitted for in camera review.

On March 16, 2006, plaintiff filed another motion to compel discovery. (Rec. Doc. No. 25.) The motion requested a complete and unredacted copy of an investigation report made concerning defendant Youron. Defendant had previously provided plaintiff with a redacted version of the report. On March 2, 2007, after reviewing the unredacted version of the investigation report in camera, we ordered defendant to provide plaintiff with certain unredacted portions of the report, but found that certain other portions could be kept confidential.

On June 15, 2006, defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. No. 31.) The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for consideration. Now, for the following reasons, we will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Judgment on the Pleadings

The defendants have filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment. As correctly pointed out by the plaintiff, the supporting brief filed by the defendants does not make any argument as to why judgment on the pleadings should be granted. (Rec. Doc. No. 38, at 6.) Hence, plaintiff argues that the motion to the extent that it requests entry of judgment on the pleadings should be deemed abandoned.

Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move for judgment on the pleadings "after the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay trial . . ." Under Rule 12(c), "judgment will not be granted unless the movant clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Jablonski v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290 (3d Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). As with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the "Court 'views the facts alleged in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Mele v. FRB, 359 F.3d 251, 253 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 535 (3d Cir. 2002)).

Defendants' supporting brief provides a detailed analysis of the applicable standards governing summary judgment motions. (Rec. Doc. No. 33, at 4-12.) However, there is no such discussion regarding their request for judgment on the pleadings. (Id.) Second, a liberal reading of the supporting brief indicates that at most the defendants are pursuing one argument for judgment on the ...


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