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Rigney v. Guzenski

July 31, 2008

STEVEN J. RIGNEY, PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHN DOE GUZENSKI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM

Background

This pro se civil rights action was initiated by Steven J. Rigney regarding alleged violations of his constitutional rights which took place during his prior confinement at the State Correctional Institution, Mahanoy, Pennsylvania ("SCIMahanoy").*fn1 Remaining Defendants are two (2) SCI-Mahanoy employees: Sergeant Ronald Schell and Correctional Officer Donald Rakus.

By Memorandum and Order dated August 21, 2007, Defendants' motion to dismiss was partially granted. Specifically, dismissal was granted in favor of all Defendants with exception of the following claims for monetary damages against Defendants Rakus and Schell in their individual capacities: (1) Correctional Officer Rakus engaged in retaliatory misconduct against the Plaintiff; and (2) Sergeant Schell was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs by denying him access to his diabetes medication.*fn2

Plaintiff contends that Defendant Rakus retaliated against him for initiating prior complaints against Correctional Officer James Guzenski. Specifically, it is alleged that on July 15, 2006, Rakus verbally harassed and threatened Rigney while the prisoner was engaged in a telephone conversation with his mother. Rakus also purportedly issued Plaintiff a meritless misconduct charge (unauthorized use of the telephone) stemming from the same incident. Rigney further claims that on October 8, 2006, Defendant Rakus opened his cell door for the purpose of allowing another prisoner to enter Rigney's cell and assault him "with a lock inside a sock." Record document no. 1, ¶ 19. As a result of the assault, Plaintiff required sutures above his left eye.

With respect to Defendant Schell, the Complaint maintains that although Rigney was suffering "a diabetic attack" on August 17, 2006, Sergeant Schell refused his request for permission to enter his cell and retrieve his diabetes medication. Id. at ¶ ¶ 17-18.

Presently pending is Remaining Defendants' motion for summary judgment. See Record document no. 48. The motion is unopposed.

Discussion

A. 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 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 ...


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