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Jesus O. Hall v. J. Koehn

June 7, 2011

JESUS O. HALL, PLAINTIFF
v.
J. KOEHN,
DEFENDANT



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Magistrate Judge Blewitt

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane Yvette Kane, Chief Judge United States District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania

Chief Judge Kane

Magistrate Judge Blewitt

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is a report and recommendation from Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt (Doc. No. 35) filed on January 11, 2011, recommending that Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages against Defendant in her official capacity be dismissed and that Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 16) be granted. Also before the Court is Plaintiff's objections*fn1 (Doc. No. 39) and Defendant's reply (Doc. No. 43). For the reasons that follow, the Court will adopt the report and recommendation in part.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Magistrate Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), provide that any party may file written objections to a magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations. In deciding whether to accept, reject, or modify the report and recommendation, the Court is to make a de novo determination of those portions of the report and recommendation to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Accordingly, in the present case, the Court reviews de novo the report and recommendation's grant of Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that "[t]he Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).*fn2 The substantive law identifies which facts are material, and "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact 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 248-49.

The moving party has the initial burden of identifying evidence that it believes shows an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Conoshenti v. Pub. Serv. Elec. & Gas Co., 364 F.3d 135, 145-46 (3d Cir. 2004). Once the moving party has shown that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's claims, "the non-moving party must rebut the motion with facts in the record and cannot rest solely on assertions made in the pleadings, legal memoranda, or oral argument." Berckeley Inv. Grp., Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 201 (3d Cir. 2006); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If the non-moving 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 of proof at trial," summary judgment is appropriate. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. Rule 56 also allows the Court to grant summary judgment as to some issues but not as to others. Specifically, the Court may "enter an order stating any material fact-including an item of damages or other relief-that is not genuinely in dispute," and thereby treat such a fact "as established in the case." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(g).

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff Jesus O. Hall, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 2.) Named as the sole defendant is Jamie Koehn, Case Manager at the Canaan United States Penitentiary ("USP-Canaan") in Waymart, Pennsylvania. According to Plaintiff, when he was incarcerated at USP-Canaan on March 14, 2009, at 1:30 p.m., he placed his hands in the food slot of his cell to protest his access to the law library and "something being in his lunch tray." (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that when Defendant stopped to ask him why his food slot was open, he pulled his arm into the slot but left his hands in plain view on the metal wicket. (Id.) Plaintiff avers that Defendant became agitated and "intentionally slammed the wicket from the outside and pressed her body weight onto it to inflict further injury." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's actions smashed his fingers, and that when he asked Defendant for medical attention she "left the range and stood at the gate laughing with other officers." (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff states that he received medical attention approximately seven hours later. (Id.) According to the Bureau of Prisons medical report, attached to Plaintiff's complaint as Exhibit A-12, the medical exam noted the following:

Awake, Alert, and Oriented to Person, Place, and Time. Inmate was ambulating around the cell without difficulty. Appeared to be moving all extremities without difficulty. Abrasions and dried blood noted to the 2nd and 3rd fingers, on the left hand, between the nailbed and ...


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