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Hilton Karriem Mincy v. Superintendent Edward Klem

March 8, 2011

HILTON KARRIEM MINCY,
PLAINTIFF
v.
SUPERINTENDENT EDWARD KLEM, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Conner)

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Hilton Karriem Mincy ("Mincy"), a state inmate in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), formerly housed at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy ("SCI-Mahanoy"), Frackville, Pennsylvania, commenced this civil rights action on January 10, 2008, alleging that he was retaliated against when he was moved to another cell in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") and "was 'set-up' by corrections officers to be attacked by another inmate just 3-4 days after having testified against corrections officers employed at S.C.I. Mahanoy in it's [sic] Restricted Housing Unit." (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 1-3.) Presently ripe for disposition are cross motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 49, 54.) For the reasons set forth below, Mincy's motion will be denied and defendants' motion will be granted.*fn1

I. Statement of Facts

At all times material to the complaint, Mincy, a Security Level 5 inmate, was incarcerated at SCI-Mahanoy. (Doc. 61, ¶ 1.) DOC Administrative policy ("DCADM") 6.5.1 provides that each Security Level 5 inmate shall be assigned to a new cell every ninety days. (Doc. 50, ¶ 45; Doc. 50, ¶ 45; Doc. 61, ¶ 2; Doc. 69, ¶ 2.) Mincy contends that he was not consistently moved in accordance with this policy and that he repeatedly wrote and reminded defendants to move him after the ninety-day period expired. (Doc. 50, ¶¶ 46, 48.)

According to DOC records, on July 28, 2005, Mincy was moved from RHU HA Pod, Cell #1 to HD Pod, Cell #5, and remained in that cell for a period of approximately five months through January 3, 2006. (Doc. 50, ¶ 1, Doc. 58, ¶ 1.) This was the only occasion-prior to the January 3, 2006 incident-that Mincy occupied the same RHU cell more than ninety days. (Doc. 58, ¶ 46.) There were also two post-incident cell assignments longer than ninety days. On January 17, 2006, Mincy was placed in Building H, Section C, Cell 2022 (an RHU cell), where he remained until May 10, 2006 (114 days). (Id. at ¶ 48.) On May 10, 2006, he was moved to another RHU cell at Building H, Section C, Cell 2018, and remained there until August 15, 2006 (97 days), at which time he was moved to a non-RHU cell. (Id.)

On December 30, 2005, Mincy gave deposition testimony and officers employed at SCI-Mahanoy, including Officer Kmieciak, were present at the deposition. (Doc. 50, ¶ 5; Doc. 58, ¶ 5.) None of the named defendants was present. (Doc. 61, ¶ 16; Doc. 69, ¶ 16.) Mincy provided this testimony in connection with Middle District of Pennsylvania Civil No. 1:05-CV-1458, Mincy v. Klem, a case in which Klem, Kane and Bitner are also named as defendants. (Doc. 50, ¶ 3; Doc. 58, ¶ 2; Doc. 61, ¶ 7;Doc. 69, ¶ 7.) At the same time, Mincy was pursuing relief in Middle District of Pennsylvania Civil No. 1:05-CV-0292, which action also included Klem, Derfler, Kane and Bitner as named defendants. (Doc. 58, ¶ 2.) Mincy's deposition testimony covered the following incidents:

While Plaintiff did refer to Michael Kmieciak (who is not a Defendant in the instant case) during his deposition for #1:05-cv-1458, the only thing he said about Kmieciak is that he may have spoken to Kmieciak about pebbles being found in his food on one occasion. He did not testify that Kmieciak did anything wrong. Plaintiff also testified that he may have spoken to Defendant Wetzel about the pebbles. In addition, Plaintiff referred to another case and related grievances in which he had alleged Wetzel witnessed Corrections Officer Vance (not a Defendant in the instant case) physically assault him. In addition, Plaintiff testified that Vance may have delivered one of Plaintiff's misconducts and that Vance had written a misconduct against Plaintiff concerning the incident in which Plaintiff has alleged, in another lawsuit, that Vance physically assaulted him. (Doc. 50, ¶ 4; Doc. 58, ¶ 4; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 9, 10-13; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 9, 10-13.) This Court granted summary judgment in favor of Vance and all other defendants in Middle District of Pennsylvania Civil No. 1:05-CV-0292 on March 2, 2007.

Mincy presently asserts that defendants retaliated against him as a result of his unfavorable deposition testimony. (Doc. 50, ¶ 4; Doc. 58 ¶ 4; Doc. 61, ¶ 8; Doc. 69, ¶ 8.) Specifically, on January 3, 2006, defendant Wetzel ordered Mincy to be moved from an RHU cell in Building H, Section D, Cell 1005 to an RHU cell in Building H, Section A. (Doc. 50, ¶ 7; Doc. 58, ¶ 7; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 17, 18; Doc. 69, ¶ 17.) There were cells on the same pod that were available for occupancy. (Doc. 50, ¶ 8; Doc. 58, ¶ 8.) For instance, on the same day, inmate Angel Pabon was ordered to be moved to another cell on the same pod. (Doc. 50, ¶ 9; Doc. 58, ¶ 9.)

In accordance with defendant Wetzel's order, defendants Latham, Miknich, and Gilligan told Mincy to pack his belongings so he could be moved; Mincy's inquiries concerning the location of his new cell went unanswered. (Doc. 50, ¶¶ 10-11; Doc. 58, ¶¶ 10-11; Doc. 61, ¶ 19; Doc. 69, ¶ 19.) Upon arrival at the new cell, Mincy's handcuffs were removed and the inmate present in the cell, Maurice Mosely, was handcuffed and removed to allow plaintiff to move his property into the cell. (Doc. 50, ¶ 14; Doc. 58, ¶ 14; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 21-22; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 21-22.) After Mincy's property was placed on the top bunk, Mosely's handcuffs were removed and he was placed back in the cell with Mincy. (Doc. 50, ¶ 15; Doc. 58, ¶ 15; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 23, 24; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 23, 24.) The cell door was closed and defendants Miknich, Gilligan and Latham walked away from the cell. (Doc. 61, ¶ 25.) Thereafter, Mincy and Mosely got into a physical altercation. Mincy contends that Mosely threw the first punch and that defendants witnessed the attack and walked away. (Doc. 50, ¶¶ 16, 17.) He further contends that they returned to watch the attack and laughed at Mincy's predicament. Sometime thereafter, defendants Miknich, Gilligan, Latham and Wetzel entered the cell to subdue Mosely. (Doc. 50, ¶¶ 17, 18, 20.) Conversely, defendants state that after departing from the cell, they heard what sounded like a physical altercation and, upon their return, found Mincy and Mosely engaged in a fight. (Doc. 58, ¶¶ 16-18; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 26-27.) None of them saw who initiated the altercation. (Doc. 61, ¶ 28.) Defendants Miknich, Gilligan, Latham and Wetzel promptly entered the cell to subdue both inmates. (Doc. 50, ¶ 20; Doc. 58, ¶ 20; Doc. 61, ¶ 29.) Mincy was handcuffed, taken to the RHU medical triage area, and examined by a nurse and physician's assistant. (Doc. 50, ¶ 21; Doc. 58, ¶ 21; Doc. 61, ¶ 31.) He was then moved to a cell within the RHU traditionally used to separate inmates who had been fighting or engaged in other problematic behavior. (Doc. 50, ¶ 23; Doc. 58, ¶ 23; Doc. 61, ¶ 33; Doc. 69, ¶ 33.) Mosely was returned to the same cell that he had occupied alone. (Doc. 50, ¶ 22; Doc. 58, ¶ 22; Doc. 61, ¶ 32; Doc. 69, ¶ 32.)

The "Inmate Handbook" in effect at the time provided that an inmate could be subject to a misconduct for "Fighting." (Doc. 61, ¶ 44; Doc. 69, ¶ 44.) The handbook contains no self-defense exception. (Doc. 61, ¶¶ 45, 47; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 45, 47.) On January 3, 2006, Mincy and Mosely received misconduct reports charging them with "Fighting" and "Refusing to Obey an Order." (Doc. 50, ¶ 24; Doc. 58, ¶ 24; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 34-35; Doc. 69, ¶ 34-35.) "On January 6, 2006, plaintiff attended his misconduct hearing for the misconduct issued, before Hearing Examiner J. Kevin Kane, . . . a defendant in both civil suits filed by plaintiff; plaintiff submitted a 4 page statement stating that he was 'set-up' by RHU officers to be attacked." (Doc. 50, ¶ 25; Doc. 58, ¶ 25; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 36-37; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 36-37.) Although he pled "not guilty," Mincy admitted that he fought back to protect himself. (Doc. 61, ¶¶ 39-40.) Mincy was found not guilty of refusing to obey an order, but guilty of fighting and sentenced to sixty days of disciplinary time. (Doc. 50, ¶ 26; Doc. 58 ¶ 26; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 38, 41; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 38, 41.) On the same day, at a misconduct hearing before defendant Kane, Mosely pled "guilty" and was given thirty days of disciplinary time. (Doc. 50, ¶ 27; Doc. 58, ¶ 58; Doc. 61, ¶¶ 42-43; Doc. 69, ¶¶ 42-43.) It is undisputed that Mincy received double the disciplinary sanction that Mosely received. (Doc. 50, ¶ 54; Doc. 58, ¶ 54.)

Mincy was never found guilty of a Misconduct Charge for "Fighting" prior to the incident on January 3, 2006. (Doc. 50, ¶ 55; Doc. 58, ¶ 55.) He received a misconduct for "Fighting" on June 20, 2003 (#A440630) for an incident occurring the same day, but a hearing examiner found him not guilty. (Doc. 58, ¶ 55.) He was also issued a misconduct for "Fighting" on June 12, 2003 for an incident occurring on June 12, 2003 (#A47752), but, again, he was found not guilty. (Id.) Mosely received the following misconducts from November 29, 1999, the date on which he was incarcerated, up until the date of the incident at issue:

a. Misconduct 0A07050

Incident date and time: 4/1/2000 at 18:35 Report date: 4/3/2000 Charges: "Aggravated Assault" and "Fighting" Pleas: No Plea to both charges Result: Charges dismissed without prejudice.

b. Misconduct 0A07051

Incident date and time: 4/1/2000 at 18:35 Report date: 4/6/2000 Charges: "Assault" and "Fighting" Pleas: Not guilty to both charges Result: Found guilty of "Assault." "Fighting" charge dismissed.

c. Misconduct A196296

Incident date and time: 7/20/2000 at 11:00 Report date: 7/20/2000 Charge: "Fighting" Plea: No Plea Result: Charge dismissed without prejudice.

d. Misconduct A082980

Incident date and time: 7/20/2000 at 11:00 Report date: 7/21/2000 Charge: "Fighting" Plea: Guilty Result: ...


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