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Everett v. Donate

March 24, 2010

JAMES EVERETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JANINE DONATE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Vanaskie

MEMORANDUM

Background

This pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was initiated by James Everett, an inmate presently confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (SCI-Rockview).*fn1 This Court previously construed Plaintiff's September 5, 2008 filing (Dkt. Entry # 12) as an amendment to his original complaint and indicated that the standing complaint would consist of both his original complaint and the aforementioned amendment.

By Memorandum and Order dated March 22, 2010 (Dkt. Entry # 68 ), this Court granted Defendant Thomas Lapinski's motion for summary judgment.*fn2 (Dkt. Entry # 39.) Remaining Defendants are the following officials at Plaintiff's prior place of confinement, the Lackawanna County Prison: Warden Janine Donate and Correctional Officers Kevin Janeski, George Calpin, and Robert Brown. Presently pending is the Remaining Defendants' summary judgment motion. (Dkt. Entry # 47.) Although Plaintiff has not submitted a formal opposing brief, given the liberal consideration afforded to pro se filings, Everett's letter filed December 24, 2009 (Dkt. Entry # 66) will be deemed to be his opposing brief (as was the case with Defendant Lapinski's summary judgment motion).

Between January 12, 2008 and November 20, 2008, Plaintiff was confined at the Lackawanna County Prison. Everett alleges that on April 18, 2008, a fellow prisoner (identified by the Remaining Defendants as being William Marcinkevich) attempted to sexually assault him. According to Plaintiff, the inmate assailant "brutally attacked me causing serious bodily harm." (Dkt Entry # 1, ¶IV(1).) It is alleged that the Remaining Defendants failed to protect Plaintiff in that: (1) although they were aware that Inmate Marcinkevich "had a violent past," they did not place him under adequate supervision, and (2) due to an inadequate inmate classification process, Marcinkevich was placed in the same housing unit as Plaintiff, who describes himself as being a non-violent offender.

Everett further asserts that he was not given adequate medical care for his injuries, which purportedly included a head contusion, recurring headaches, swollen left knee, anxiety attacks, nose bleeds, and broken teeth. He points out that neither x-rays nor an MRI were taken and he still has residual health problems stemming from the attack. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief as well as nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages.

Discussion

Remaining Defendants argue that they are entitled to entry of summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) the undisputed record establishes that they had no knowledge that Inmate Marcinkevich posed a threat to Plaintiff's safety; (2) the classification criteria used in making inmate cell assignments was appropriate; and (3) Everett received a timely medical evaluation following the incident.

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)).

Failure to Protect

Remaining Defendants state that during the relevant time period the Lackawanna County Prison "utilized an objective jail classification system approved by the National Correctional Institute." (Dkt. Entry # 49 at 3.) This system "relies upon objective criteria and utilizes a computerized program to rate inmates to determine the appropriate level of security for their housing." (Id.) Since this classification system resulted in the placement of Plaintiff and his alleged assailant in the same housing unit, Remaining Defendants contend that there is no basis for an Eighth Amendment claim. Second, they argue that there is no evidence in the record which could support a conclusion that Correctional Officers Brown, Calpin, and Janeski were aware that Inmate Marcinkevich posed a threat to Plaintiff's safety. Plaintiff has not specifically addressed the defense arguments, but rather ...


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