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Kimble v. Tennis

July 9, 2007


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

(Judge McClure)



Paul Kimble ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined at the Fayette State Correctional Institution, LaBelle, Pennsylvania, initiated this pro se civil rights action. By Memorandum and Order dated June 6, 2006, this Court partially granted Defendants Romeo and Symons' motion to dismiss. Specifically, dismissal was entered in favor of Doctor Joseph Romeo but was denied with respect to the claim that Doctor Symon's deliberate indifference to a serious health risk caused the Plaintiff to become infected with Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ("MRSA").

The remaining Defendants are Wexford Health Sources and the following employees at Plaintiff's prior place of incarceration, the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Rockview"): Superintendent Franklin Tennis; Health Care Administrator Richard Ellers; and Doctor John Symons. Kimble is serving a life sentence following his conviction for criminal homicide. On July 1, 2002, he was transferred to SCI-Rockview from the State Correctional Institution, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. On March 7, 2003, Plaintiff underwent an open Cholecystectomy at Altoona Hospital. Upon his return to SCI-Rockview, Kimble states that he was placed in the prison's Special Needs Unit ("SNU"). While housed in the SNU, he allegedly befriended another prisoner named Keith Hart.

His complaint alleges that there was an outbreak of MRSA, a highly contagious staph infection within SCI-Rockview.*fn1 Plaintiff indicates that MRSA can be transmitted via saliva or blood or "passed from touching surfaces that others have touched." Record document no. 1, Addendum, ¶ 14. Kimble contends that the Defendants failed to inform the general population inmates as to the spread of MRSA. They also purportedly neglected to take adequate precautions to prevent the spread of the infection. Specifically, Plaintiff maintains that Inmate Hart, despite having been diagnosed with MRSA, was allowed to return to general population with "open wounds" from the infection. Id. at ¶ 12. Kimble adds that correctional staff "made no attempt to wipe down the prison to stop the spread of this disease." Id. at ¶ 13.

After being housed in the same cell block as Inmate Hart, Plaintiff asserts that he was diagnosed as having contracted MRSA. His complaint concludes that as a result of the Defendants' alleged deliberate indifference, he was infected with the "deadly flesh eating disease" from Inmate Hart, while they were housed together in the SNU. Id., Complaint at ¶ IV (3). Kimble seeks injunctive relief as well as punitive and compensatory damages.

On February 26, 2007, Defendants Tennis and Ellers filed a motion claiming entitlement to entry of summary judgment. See Record document no. 55. Thereafter, Defendant Symons filed a separate motion seeking entry of summary judgment See Record document no. 59. Both motions have been briefed and are ripe for consideration.


SCI-Rockview Superintendent Tennis and Health Care Administrator Ellers argue that they are entitled to entry of summary judgment because: (1) Plaintiff's action is barred by Pennsylvania's applicable statute of limitations; and (2) Kimble failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies; and (3) Tennis and Ellers were not personally involved in any violation of the Plaintiff's constitutional rights.*fn2

Doctor Symons claims entitlement to entry of summary judgment on the grounds that : (1) Plaintiff has not presented any evidence establishing that he contracted MRSA from Inmate Hart after his March 7, 2003 surgery; and (2) there is no evidence that Doctor Symons acted with deliberate indifference. In a reply brief, Symons adds that based on Plaintiff's admission that he contracted MRSA in March, 2003, his complaint is time barred. See Record document no. 73, p. 2.

Standard of Review

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 ...

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