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Royster v. Beard

August 15, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 115). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be denied.


I. Relevant Procedural History

Plaintiff Telly Royster, an inmate presently confined at the Huntingdon State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Huntingdon") in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, initiated this action pro se by filing a civil rights complaint pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

He subsequently filed an amended complaint (Doc. 23) in which he named three categories of Defendants. The first category consists of Jeffrey A. Beard, Ph.D., Secretary of the Department of Corrections ("DOC"); Superintendent Donald L. Kelchner; and Teresa Law, Corrections Health Care Administrator ("Administrative Defendants").

The second category consists of the following corrections officers at Camp Hill State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Camp Hill"): Captain Daniel Orwig; Lieutenant Nick G. Rodites; Lieutenant Anthony Ross; Sergeant Steven E. Klinedinst; Sergeant Duncan; Officer Michael J. Cleaver; Officer Sanchez; Officer Adam Huber; Officer LeRoy Robinson; Officer Steven A. Spriggle*fn1 ; Officer Michael Martin; Officer John R. Snook; Officer Bryan D. Stubbs; Officer Keith Fenstemaker; and Officer Daniel R. Leahman ("Corrections Defendants").

The final category consists of the following members of the SCI-Camp Hill medical staff: Nurse Monica Woodyard; Janeen Davis, RN; Danielle McGrath, LPN; Physician Assistant Colleen Newfield; and Physician Assistant Michael Spaeder ("Medical Defendants").

In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, while he was previously incarcerated at SCI-Camp Hill, he was assaulted by Defendants Huber, Cleaver, Rodites, Klinedinst, and Sanchez and that Defendants Spriggle and Fenstemaker watched the assault and failed to intervene. He also alleges that Ross, Duncan, and the Medical Defendants denied him medical treatment for the resulting injuries.

On September 24, 2007, the Court granted in part and denied in part the Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of Defendants Beard, Kelchner, Cleaver, Huber, Klinedinst, Law, Leahman, Martin, Orwig, Robinson, Rodites, Snook, Spriggle, Stubbs and Woodyard. (Doc. 90.) Therefore, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Martin, Snook, Kelchner, Beard, Orwig, Robinson, and Leahman that they deprived him of his basic human needs, violated his right to due process, and conspired to cover up the violations of his constitutional rights have been dismissed, and these Defendants will be terminated as parties to this action.

On October 16, 2007, the Corrections Defendants filed an Answer (Doc. 98) to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. On January 10, 2008, a Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on behalf of Defendants Huber, Cleaver, Rodites, Klinedinst, Robinson, Spriggle, Stubbs, Lehman, Fenstemaker, Law, Woodyard, Davis, and McGrath. (Doc. 115.) A supporting brief (Doc. 116), Statement of Facts (Doc. 118), Appendix (Doc. 117), and videotape filmed on July 3, 2004 also were filed. Following a request for an extension of time, which was granted (Doc. 123), on February 14, 2008, Plaintiff filed his opposition brief (Doc. 125) and Statement of Facts (Doc. 127). Therefore, the Motion is ripe for disposition.

II. Statement of Facts

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Amended Complaint (Doc. 23) and in his opposing Statement of Facts (Doc. 126):

On July 3, 2004, at approximately 7:45 a.m., Defendant Cleaver informed Royster that he would be last for the shower. (Doc. 23 ¶ 11.) Cleaver then approached Defendants Rodites, Klinedinst, and Sanchez, they exchanged words, and they all began smiling and nodding their heads up and down. (Id. ¶ 12.)

Approximately fifteen to twenty minutes later, Rodites, Klinedinst, Cleaver, Sanchez, and Huber came to Royster's cell to escort him to the shower. (Id. ¶ 13.) Cleaver handcuffed Royster with the waist chain connected to the handcuffs and directed Royster to back into the cell when the door opened. (Id. ¶ 14.) When the door opened, Huber took the waist chains from Cleaver, punched Royster in the mouth, and then pushed Royster on the bed. (Id. ¶ 15; Doc. 126 ¶ 25.)

Rodites, Klinedinst, Cleaver, and Sanchez then rushed into the cell and began to repeatedly punch Royster's upper body area with closed fists. (Doc. 23 ¶ 16; Doc. 126 ¶ 28.) Rodites and Klinedinst hit Royster with batons. (Doc. 23 ¶ 16; Doc. 126 ¶ 28.) Huber also continued to assault Royster. (Doc. 23 ¶ 16.)

They then pushed Royster to the floor and stomped and kicked him. (Id. ¶ 17.) Royster pleaded with them to stop. (Doc. 126 ¶ 28; Ex. F-1, Affidavit of David Brown, at 38; Ex. F-2, Affidavit of Hubert Jackson, at 39; Ex. F-3, Affidavit of Artemio Jimnez, at 40.) The repeated blows to Royster's head at one point rendered him unconscious. (Doc. 23 ¶ 18.) Royster was hit on the front and back of his head, face, eyes, nose, ears, crotch, arms, wrists, chest, back, and neck. (Id. ¶ 19.) Royster remained handcuffed throughout the assault. (Id. ¶ 24.) The assault lasted for approximately fifteen minutes. (Id. ¶ 22.)

Royster suffered the following injuries as a result of the assault:

* swelling and bruising on the back of his head, right side of forehead, eyes, nose, ears, left arm, wrists, chest

* open wounds on his left arm, left ear, left eye, right eye, nose, left wrist, left hand, and right wrist

* migraine headaches

* memory lapses

* blurry vision

* sensitivity to ...

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