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Drippe v. Gototweski

August 11, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court are Defendant Ralph Gototweski's Objections (Doc. 51) to Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion's June 6, 2008 Report and Recommendation (Doc. 50) denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 40.) For the reasons stated below, this Court will overrule Defendant's objections, adopt the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, and deny Defendant's motion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff Jeffrey Allen Drippe's statement of facts in opposition to the current motion for summary judgment (Pl.'s Br. in Opp., Doc. 45.) reaffirmed the facts in his Amended Complaint, which alleged the following:

On or about August 1, 2004 while in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") at State Correctional Institution ("SCI") Frackville, Plaintiff was forced to shower in a dirty shower area without shoes on. (Am. Compl. ¶ A, Doc. 19.) On August 4, 2004, Plaintiff became very ill with flu-like symptoms and swelling in his right leg. (Id. ¶ B.) Defendant asked Plaintiff if he was all right, to which Plaintiff responded that he needed medical care. (Id.)

Defendant told Plaintiff that his leg looked bad, but never notified or took Plaintiff to see medical staff. (Id. ¶ C.) For the next three (3) days, Plaintiff suffered deliberate indifference by prison officials to his serious medical needs. (Id.) On August 7, 2004, Plaintiff was treated by medical staff and was later diagnosed with cellulitus. (Id. ¶¶ D,E.)

On May 31, 2006, Plaintiff initiated this action by the filing of a Complaint. (Doc. 1.) On December 15, 2006, Plaintiff filed on Amended Complaint. (Doc. 19.) Defendant filed his Answer on July 31, 2007. (Doc. 23.) On October 25, 2007, Defendant filed his response (Doc. 42, Ex. A) to Plaintiff's request for admissions. (Doc. 29.) In his response, Defendant denied working at the prison on August 4, 2004. (Doc. 42, Ex. A. ¶ 2.) He further denied seeing Plaintiff's swollen leg and receiving Plaintiff's request for medical attention. (Id. ¶ 12.) Defendant also denied personal knowledge of the entire incident that occurred between August 4 and August 7, 2008. (Id. ¶ 11.)

On October 25, 2007, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 40), and on June 6, 2008, Magistrate Judge Mannion issued a Report and Recommendation denying Defendant's motion. (Doc. 50.) Defendant timely filed his objections to the Report and Recommendation on June 20, 2008. (Doc. 51.) These objections are fully briefed and ripe for disposition.


I. Review of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

Where objections to the magistrate judge's report are filed, the Court must conduct a de novo review of the contested portions of the report, Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c)), provided the objections are both timely and specific, Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). In making its de novo review, the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v. Beard, 829 F. Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Although the review is de novo, the statute permits the Court to rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7; Ball v. United States Parole Comm'n, 849 F. Supp. 328, 330 (M.D. Pa. 1994). Uncontested portions of the report may be reviewed at a standard determined by the district court. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7. At the very least, the Court should review uncontested portions for clear error or manifest injustice. See, e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F. Supp. 375, 376-77 (M.D. Pa. 1998).

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate 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 a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. See id. at 248. An issue of material fact is ...

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