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White v. Bledsoe

September 24, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Vanaskie



Walter Duane White, proceeding pro se, filed this Bivens*fn1 -type complaint while previously confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USPLewisburg").*fn2 Named as Defendants are four (4) USP-Lewisburg officials: Warden B.A. Bledsoe, Unit Manager Adami, and Correctional Counselors Chad Rice and Cavanaugh.*fn3

Service of the Complaint was previously ordered. See Dkt. Entry # 13.*fn4

Plaintiff initially states that he was transferred to USP-Lewisburg from the Gilmer Federal Correctional Institution, Glenville, West Virginia (FCI-Gilmer) in retaliation for his filing of institutional grievances which questioned the adequacy of his medical care. On or about the first week of April, 2008, he was moved to a different cell at USP-Lewisburg "because of his diabetic medical needs." (Dkt. Entry # 1, ¶ 2.) However, his new cell was a "gang cell and [he] was approached by Inmate Carter to find another cell." (Id.) As a result, Plaintiff made a verbal request for a cell change to Counselor Cavanaugh. According to the Complaint, Cavanaugh advised Plaintiff to report to the prison's Segregated Housing Unit (SHU).

White indicates that because he felt that it was unfair for him to be put in the SHU, he submitted a written request for a cell change to Counselor Rice, which noted that if he was harmed that he would hold Rice and Cavanaugh responsible. The next day, Plaintiff met with Counselor Rice and informed the Defendant that he wished to withdraw his request because he "thought everything was smoothed over about the cell." (Id. at ¶ 4.) Rice allegedly lost his temper, telling Plaintiff that he would not be held responsible if the inmate was harmed, and engaged in verbal harassment for the purported purpose of attempting to provoke White into an altercation.

White claims that Unit Manager Adami intervened and called the prisoner into his office. During their ensuing conversation, Plaintiff purportedly told Adami about the situation and Rice's conduct. Next, White filed a grievance with Warden Bledsoe regarding Rice's actions. Bledsoe allegedly responded that the incident involving Rice never happened. (Id. at ¶ 5.) After filing a second similar grievance with Bledsoe, Plaintiff contends that he was "given a false, fabricated, manufactured incident report" in retaliation for the filing of his grievances. (Id. at ¶ 6.) He was found guilty of institutional misconduct following a disciplinary hearing and received various purportedly excessive sanctions, including a twenty-eight (28) day loss of good conduct time. Plaintiff asserts that it was improper for Rice to serve on the prison Unit Disciplinary Committee which recommended that a disciplinary hearing be held regarding the incident report and that maximum sanctions be imposed on White. (Id.)

The Complaint next alleges that Plaintiff was assaulted by Inmate Carter on June 30, 2008. (Id. at 5.) As a result of this altercation, White states that he suffered a chipped tooth, broken nose, an injury to his left shoulder, facial lacerations, and bruises. Plaintiff indicates that the attack could have been avoided if Defendants had given him a different cell. Following the incident, White was transferred to the SHU pending an investigation. While in the SHU he was purportedly denied access to his legal work and research. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Defendants responded to the complaint by submitting a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment on January 12, 2009. (Dkt. Entry # 26). The motion is ripe for disposition.


Defendants' pending dispositive motion is supported by evidentiary materials outside the pleadings. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(d) provides in part as follows:

If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside the pleading 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 reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(d). The Court will not exclude the evidentiary materials accompanying the Defendants' motion. Thus, their motion will be treated as solely seeking summary judgment.

Summary judgment is proper 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c);Seealso Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248. The court must resolve all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the non-moving party. Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232; seealsoReeder v. ...

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