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Monroe v. Hogsten

April 27, 2009

JOSEPH MONROE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KAREN HOGSTEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Joseph Monroe ("Plaintiff" or "Monroe"), an inmate currently confined at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI Allenwood") in White Deer, Pennsylvania, commenced this Bivens*fn1 action on July 23, 2007. Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Record document no. 32.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

Monroe names several groups of Defendants in his Complaint. First, he names Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and the following employees at Monroe's prior place of confinement, the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City ("MCC New York"): Warden Marvin Morrison, Physician Assistant Gautam Patel, and Correctional Officers Linder and John Doe (hereinafter, "New York Defendants"). Next, he namesAlberto Gonzalez in his capacity at that time as United States Attorney General and in his individual capacity. Finally, Monroe names as Defendants various officials of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") and FCI Allenwood.*fn2

In his Complaint, Monroe alleges that, on September 27, 2002, while he was incarcerated at MCC New York, he was assaulted by Officer Linder, and Officer Doe failed to intervene. (Record document no. 1 ¶¶ 16-24, 39.) He alleges that, while he was being led back to his cell from the shower by Linder and Doe, Linder pushed him down the stairs. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.) Monroe claims that, as a result of the fall, he injured his lower back, hands, arms, and finger. (Id. ¶ 25.) In addition, Monroe alleges that, since his arrival at FCI Allenwood on July 12, 2005, he has received inadequate medical care for his lower back. (Id. ¶¶ 28-38.) In addition to compensatory and punitive damages, Monroe requests declaratory and injunctive relief. (Id. at 8-9.)

By Order dated October 30, 2007, this Court dismissed the claims against the New York Defendants as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(I) because the claims were based upon a September 27, 2002 incident, and thus, at the time Monroe filed his Complaint on July 23, 2007, they were barred by the applicable New York state three (3) year statute of limitations. (See Record document no. 12.) The Order directed service of the Complaint on Gonzalez and the BOP and FCI Allenwood officials named as Defendants (hereinafter "Defendants").

Following several requests for extension of time to respond to the Complaint, which were granted, on May 16, 2008, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Record document no. 32.) On May 30, 2008, Defendants filed a supporting brief (Record document no. 33), exhibits (Record document nos. 33-2, 33-3), and statement of material facts (Record document no. 34.) On July 10, 2008, Defendants filed a notice indicating that their motions and supporting documents had not been successfully served on Monroe because he had been released from FCI Allenwood on a writ ad testificundum on April 21, 2008. (Record document no. 35.) Defendants represented that they would re-attempt service of the documents on Monroe upon his return to FCI Allenwood. On September 4, 2008, Defendants filed an amended certificate of service indicating that a recent check of BOP records indicated that Monroe was back at FCI Allenwood, and thus the brief and accompanying documents were mailed to him on that date. (Record document no. 37.)

Because Monroe did not file any opposition to the motion, on December 16, 2008, this Court issued an Order granting him an opportunity to file his opposition to the motion within fifteen (15) days. (Record document no. 38.) Following a request for an extension of time to file his opposition, which was granted, Monroe filed his brief in opposition on February 13, 2009. (Record document no. 41.) On February 27, 2009, Defendants filed a reply brief. (Record document no. 42.) Accordingly, the motion is ripe for consideration.

STANDARDS OF REVIEW

I. Motion to Dismiss

Defendants seek dismissal of Monroe's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the basis that it fails to state a claim upon whichrelief can be granted. In the alternative, Defendants seek summary judgment and have submitted evidentiary documents outside the pleadings in support of their motion. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(d) provides:

(d) Result of Presenting Matters Outside the Pleadings. If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). The Court will not exclude the evidentiary materials accompanying Defendants' motion because Monroe was given a reasonable opportunity to present material relevant to the motion. (See Record document no. 40.) Accordingly, the Court will treat Defendants' motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, solely as a motion seeking summary judgment.

II. Summary Judgment

It is appropriate for a court to grant a motion for summary judgment "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). An issue is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "Material facts" are those which might affect the outcome of the suit. Id.; Justofin v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 517, 521 (3d Cir. 2004).

A party seeking the entry of summary judgment 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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).

Once the moving party meets its burden of showing an absence of genuine issues of material fact, the nonmoving party must provide some evidence that an issue of material fact remains. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986). However, the nonmoving party cannot do so merely by offering general denials, vague allegations, or conclusory statements; rather, the party must point to specific evidence in the record that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. v. N.E. ex rel. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252 (3d Cir. 1999). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the court will draw all ...


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