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Mckinney v. Kelchner

September 27, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sylvia H. Rambo


Plaintiff Derrick McKinney ("Plaintiff"), a Pennsylvania state inmate, initiated this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Named as defendants are the following officials at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Camp Hill"): Superintendent Kelchner, Unit Manager Steigerwalt, and Corrections Officers Nixdorf, Snook, and Warner.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (Doc. 16.) This motion was originally filed as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Upon initial review, because the portion of the motion seeking dismissal of certain claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies contained evidentiary materials outside the pleadings, that portion of the motion*fn1 was converted to one for summary judgment, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), and Plaintiff was afforded the opportunity to oppose the motion and file any pertinent documentation. (Doc. 33.) Plaintiff took advantage of this opportunity by filing a counter statement of facts (Doc. 34) and an opposition brief (Doc. 36). Defendants filed a reply brief. (Doc. 35.) Also pending is plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. (Doc. 39.) The motions are presently ripe for disposition and, for the reasons set forth below, the summary judgment motion will be granted in part and the motion for a preliminary injunction will be denied.

I. Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Statement of Facts

At all times relevant, plaintiff was housed in the Special Management Unit ("SMU") at SCI-Camp Hill. He alleges that on February 21, 2003, while being escorted from the SMU mini law library, he was physically assaulted by defendants Nixdorf, Snook and Warner. (Doc. 1 at 2-3.)

Immediately following the incident, plaintiff utilized the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' ("DOC") grievance system, which provides inmates access to a formal procedure through which the resolution of problems or other issues of concern arising during the course of confinement may be sought, by filing Grievance No. 45855. (Doc. 23-2 at 1.) The Administrative Directive (DC-ADM) in effect at the time of the incident in question*fn2 provided for the following three stages of review: (1) Initial Review, which addresses the inmate's filed grievance at the institutional level, DC-ADM-804 Part VI.B; (2) appeal from the initial review known as the Appeal to Facility Manager, DC-ADM-804 Part VI C; and (3) the final appeal to the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals ("SOIGA"), DC-ADM-804 Part VI.D.

In his initial grievance, plaintiff stated that "this grievance is on Unit Manager Steigerwalt and C/O Nixdorf," and involves a physical altercation between himself and Nixdorf, Snook and C/O John Doe. (Official Inmate Grievance, Doc. 34-2 at 32). He indicates that the assault was in retaliation for the filing of previous lawsuits. In addition, he included a multitude of complaints about SMU policies. The Grievance Officer responded as follows:

Officer Nixdorf denies that any type of physical interaction occurred between yourself and Officer Nixdorf during your escort from the S.M.U. Law Library on 02/21/03.

The aforementioned issue is the only part of grievance #45855 that warrants a response. The remaining text of grievance #45855 fails to comply with DOC Adm. Dir. 804, Sec. VI A, 1d. (Initial Review Response, Doc. 34-2 at 35.) Plaintiff pursued an appeal. It was concluded that the response of the grievance officer was appropriate and the appeal was denied. (Id. at 36.) He then sought final review. The Chief Grievance Coordinator concluded the following:

Upon completion of the review, it is the decision of this office to uphold the responses provided by staff at the Institutional level. I found that there is no evidence to support your allegations against Officer Nixdorf. The remaining issues you raise in this grievance pertaining to the overall management of the SMU and the various alleged violations of the 6.5.1 will not be addressed in this review, as these issues are separate. Further, you speak in general terms, failing to provide specifics. Based upon this information, your request for compensation is denied. (Response of the SOIGA, Doc. 34-2 at 1.)

According to the Assistant Chief Grievance Coordinator in the SOIGA, who is the records custodian for all grievance appeals submitted and has the responsibility, inter alia, of reviewing all grievances to see if the inmate appealed to final review, plaintiff did not pursue any other grievances to final review. (Declaration of Kristen Reisinger, Doc. 23 at 4-5, ¶¶ 7-9.)

B. Standard of Review

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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of proving that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Id. 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. El v. S.E. Transp. Auth., 479 F.3d 232, 238 (3d Cir. 2007). "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 ...

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