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Terrell v. Passaniti

November 10, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure


Plaintiff Brooks Terrell ("Plaintiff" or "Terrell"), an inmate presently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution Talladega ("FCI Talladega") in Talladega, Alabama, commenced this pro se civil rights action by filing a Complaint raising claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's motion to amend Complaint (Rec. Doc. No. 23), Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Rec. Doc. No. 13), and Defendants' motion for a protective order (Rec. Doc. No. 25). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to amend will be denied, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted, and Defendants' motion for a protective order will be denied as moot.


Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 10, 2008 while he was an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USP Lewisburg"). (Rec. Doc. No. 1.) Named as Defendants are three employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") at USP Lewisburg: Captain Passaniti, Lieutenant Argueta, and Dr. Karpan. Plaintiff alleges that, on June 6, 2008, Defendants placed him in restraints and then put him in a cell with another inmate for seventy-two (72) hours. (Id. § IV. ¶¶ 1, 2.) He further alleges that he was not provided with notice of any violation and did not receive due process before these "sanctions" were imposed. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 3.) Plaintiff claims that he suffered injuries, including blisters, cuts, and punched nerves in his hands and wrists and mental torture. (Id. ¶ 3.) As relief, Plaintiff seeks $15,000 from each Defendant. (Id. § V. ¶ 1.)


Plaintiff seeks leave to amend his Complaint in order to add twenty-eight (28) new defendants. (See Rec. Doc. No. 23 at 3.) Twenty-seven (27) of the proposed defendants are employees of the BOP at FCI Talladega, where Plaintiff currently is incarcerated. (See id.) The twenty-eighth defendant is an employee of the BOP at the United States Penitentiary - Lee "("USP Lee") in Jonesville, Virginia, where Plaintiff was incarcerated before being transferred to FCI Talladega. (See id.) Plaintiff seeks to add a retaliation claim against Disciplinary Hearing Officer D. Rupert at USP Lee based on Rupert's alleged direction to transfer Plaintiff from a maximum security facility to a medium security facility. (See id. at 1.) He also seeks to add claims regarding the conditions of his confinement at FCI Talladega since his arrival there on May 10, 2009, and retaliation claims based on incidents that occurred at FCI Talladega on May 29 and June 4, 2009. (See id. at 2, 4.)

Venue for actions brought under § 1983 is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).*fn1 Section 1391(b) provides that venue is proper in: (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same state, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant may be found, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought.

The twenty-eight (28) defendants Plaintiff seeks to add in his proposed amended complaint reside either in the Northern District of Alabama or the Western District of Virginia, and all of the events that Plaintiff describes took place in those districts. Therefore, the Middle District of Pennsylvania is not the proper venue for the new claims Plaintiff seeks to add, and Plaintiff's motion to amend his Complaint (Rec. Doc. No. 23) will be denied without prejudice to his ability to raise his claims before the courts of appropriate jurisdiction.


Service of Plaintiff's Complaint was directed by Order dated July 28, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 6.) Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment on October 20, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 13.) On November 3, 2008, Defendants filed a supporting brief (Rec. Doc. No. 15), statement of material facts ("SMF") (Rec. Doc. No. 16), and a supporting declaration (Rec. Doc. No. 16-2). On December 23, 2008, Plaintiff filed a document entitled "Motion for Cross Summary Judgment" to which he attached an affidavit and supporting exhibits. (Rec. Doc. No. 17.) The document contained the caption for this action as well as for Plaintiff's civil rights action at Civil No. 4:08-CV-1248 and was filed on both dockets. On January 15, 2009, this Court issued Orders in both cases construing the document as Plaintiff's brief in opposition to the motions for summary judgment pending in both cases inasmuch as it contained argument and citations to case law responding to the arguments presented in both sets of Defendants' supporting briefs. (See Rec. Doc. No. 18.) The Order also directed Plaintiff to file a statement of material facts responding to Defendants' SMF in accordance with Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 56.1 ("LR 56.1"). (See id.) On February 2, 2009, Plaintiff filed identical statements of material facts in this case and in his action at Civil No. 4:08-CV-1248. (Rec. Doc. No. 19.) Defendants filed a reply brief on February 17, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 20.) Accordingly, the motion is ripe for disposition.

I. Standard of Review

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 ...

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