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Abuiz v. Brennan

May 28, 2009

TIMOTHY MEL ABUIZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN WILLIAM BRENNAN, ET. AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

Magistrate Judge Smyser

ORDER

BACKGROUND

On August 16, 2006, plaintiff Timothy Mel Abuiz, a state prisoner currently residing at the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility in Cape Vincent, NY, proceeding pro se commenced this action by filing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 based on events that took place while he was located at the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility (hereinafter "SCCF") in Montrose, PA. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on June 22, 2007. (Rec. Doc. No. 73). Although plaintiff filed the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §1331, the magistrate judge construed the complaint as if it had been brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as the parties involved are state actors. Defendants are William Brennan, Nicholas Conigliaro, Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, and Susquehanna County. Plaintiff asserts that his constitutional rights were violated by the conditions of his cell (Count I), withheld legal mail (Count II), racial segregation (Count III), and denial of access to legal materials (Count IV).

The matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser. Discovery is completed, and defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on July 3, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 172). Defendants filed the supporting brief July 14, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 175). Plaintiff filed his opposing brief November 4, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 195. No reply brief was filed.

The magistrate judge filed a twenty-three-page report and recommendation on March 13, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 196). The magistrate judge granted the motion for summary judgment in part and denied it in part. The magistrate judge recommended that defendant SCCF be dismissed from the action. The magistrate judge recommended that defendant Susquehanna County be granted summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims. Finally, the magistrate judge recommended that defendants Brennan and Conigliaro be granted summary judgment on Counts II and IV, and be denied summary judgment on Counts I and III. Plaintiff was granted an extension within which to file his objections to the report and recommendation, and the objections were timely filed April 14, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 201).

Now, therefore, we will adopt the magistrate judge's report and recommendation.

DISCUSSION

A district court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which a party objects. L. R. 72.3. The court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Id.

Plaintiff did not object to the recommendation of the magistrate judge that SCCF be dismissed, or that defendants Brennan and Conigliaro be denied summary judgment on Counts I and III. We agree with the reasoning set forth in the report and recommendation, and for judicial economy, we will not rehash the sound reasoning of the magistrate judge. We adopt the recommendation that defendant SCCF be dismissed from the action. We also adopt the recommendation that defendants Brennan and Conigliaro be denied summary judgment on Counts I and III.

Plaintiff did object to the recommendation that Susquehanna County be granted summary judgment on all counts, and that Brennan and Conigliaro be granted summary judgment on Counts II and IV.

1. Susquehanna County

The magistrate judge found that Susquehanna County is entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff objected, asserting that Susquehanna County is not entitled to qualified immunity because of the county's failure to train its staff at SCCF. Plaintiff alleges that this failure to train resulted in the other constitutional violations at issue in his complaint.

"Municipal liability can be predicated upon a failure to train." Woloszyn v. County of Lawrence, 396 F.3d 314, 324 (3d Cir. 2005). "However, a municipality is only liable for failing to train when that failure amounts to 'deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of persons. . ."Id. at 325 (internal citations omitted). "Therefore, not all failures or lapses in training will support liability under § 1983." Id. "Moreover, the identified deficiency in the training program must be closely related to the ultimate constitutional injury." Id. "[A] plaintiff asserting a failure to train theory is required to prove that the deficiency in training actually caused the constitutional violation." Id. "Establishing municipal liability on a failure to train claim under § 1983 is difficult." Kline v. Mansfield, 255 Fed. Appx. 624, 629 (3d Cir. 2007) (non-precedential) (internal ...


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