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Boyd v. United States

November 30, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Vanaskie



John L. Boyd, an inmate presently confined at the Hazelton United States Penitentiary, Bruceton Mills, West Virginia (USP-Hazelton), proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Service of the Complaint was previously ordered.

Named as Defendants are the United States of America; Regional Director D. Scott Dodril and Regional Designator E.L. Tatum of the Northeast Office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP); and the following staff members at his former place of confinement, the Allenwood United States Penitentiary, White Deer, Pennsylvania (USP-Allenwood): Warden Troy Williamson; Health Services Administrator Ronald Laino; Case Manager Todd Burke; Counselor Jeffrey Troutman; Unit Team Coordinator Mark Tanner; Special Investigative Services (SIS) Officers S. Valin*fn1 and Steven Valenicik (identified in the Complaint as S. Vellolliah); Lieutenant Cory Heath; Unit Team Managers Timothy Noone and Donn Troutman; as well as eight (8) John Doe Correctional Officers.

Boyd states that he arrived at USP-Lewisburg on or about December 5, 1994. (Dkt. Entry # 1, Section IV, ¶ 7.)*fn2 On December 17, 2003, Boyd allegedly discovered that his progressive Glaucoma was not being properly treated. His Complaint contends that between April, 2004 and August, 2005, he was subjected to retaliation for filing prison grievances, administrative remedies, and a civil rights action challenging his ophthalmic care. The initial retaliatory act occurred on or about April 29, 2004 when he was issued a false incident report by Defendant Laino which accused him of having unauthorized contact with the public. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Plaintiff next claims that there was an unwarranted shakedown search of his cell and improper confiscation of his family photographs on June 9, 2004. (Id. at ¶ 13.) The next day, Plaintiff allegedly underwent an unnecessary personal search in the prison yard. (Id. at ¶ 14.) On February 28, 2005, Lieutenant Heath purportedly ordered Boyd to leave the dining hall before the inmate was afforded an opportunity to eat his breakfast. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

After Defendant Troutman informed Heath that Plaintiff was intending to file a grievance regarding the dining hall incident, additional retaliation occurred. Specifically, on March 1, 2005, another unwarranted shakedown search of Plaintiff's cell and confiscation of personal property items occurred. According to the Complaint, Defendant Dodrill retaliated against Boyd on May 24, 2005 by rejecting his "sensitive" administrative grievance. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Finally, on August 17, 2005, numerous Defendants allegedly altered Boyd's custody classification level. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and an institutional transfer.

Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment premised on Boyd's failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to seeking judicial relief. (Dkt. Entry # 18.) Thereafter, Plaintiff's request to temporarily hold his case in abeyance due to his recent transfer to another facility for the purpose of giving a deposition in another matter was granted. (Dkt. Entry # 28.)

After Boyd advised this Court that he was "medically transferred" to USP-Lewisburg and did not have access to his legal or personal property, this Court issued an Order (Dkt. Entry # 31) directing the Clerk of Court to reinstate this action to the active docket and ordering Defendants to re-serve Plaintiff with a copy of their motion for summary judgment, supporting exhibits, statement of facts and brief. In addition, Plaintiff was granted thirty (30) days from the date of service of those documents to file his opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

By Order dated April 25, 2007, this Court again stayed proceedings in this matter and administratively closed the case pending notification by Plaintiff that he was in receipt of his legal materials. (Dkt. Entry # 35.) On August 3, 2007, this matter was restored to the active docket and Plaintiff was granted a further extension of time in which to oppose the summary judgment motion. (Dkt. Entry # 38.) Briefing has been completed, and the motion for summary judgment is ripe for consideration.


Standard of Review

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 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; see also Reeder v. Sybron Transition Corp., 142 F.R.D. 607, 609 (M.D. Pa. 1992).

Once the moving party has shown that there is an absence of evidence to support the claims of the non-moving party, the non-moving party may not simply sit back and rest on the allegations in its complaint. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Instead, it must "go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. (internal quotations omitted); seealsoSaldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (citations omitted).

Summary judgment should be granted where a party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. "'Such affirmative evidence -- regardless of whether it is direct or circumstantial -- must amount to more than a scintilla, but may amount to less (in the evaluation of the court) than a preponderance.'" Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (quoting Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989)). ...

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