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Edward Kamel Abraham, Jr. v. David Diguglielmo

June 30, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'neill, J.


Plaintiff filed a four count complaint alleging that his medical needs were mistreated while he was incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Defendants Jude Germaine, Felipe Arias and Prison Health Services*fn1 filed a motion for summary judgment. Presently before me are defendants' brief in support of its motion, plaintiff's response and defendants' reply.


During the time period relevant to this case, plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI-Graterford. Am. Compl. ¶ 11. While incarcerated, Plaintiff developed subacute stage testicular torsion in his left testicle. Despite his requests for medical attention, Plaintiff did not receive treatment until February 3, 2004 -- 10 days after he first experienced pain. Id. at 46. Doctors at the hospital informed plaintiff that had his condition been properly treated within twelve hours damage to his testicle could have been prevented. Id. at 53.

On February 10, 2004, plaintiff filed an initial grievance, number 75442, with Facility Grievance Coordinator Leslie Hatcher. He complained therein of pain in his testicles and expressed frustration that he was receiving inadequate pain medication. See Grievance No. 754422 from plaintiff to Leslie Hatcher (Feb. 10, 2004) (Pl.'s Ex. A). Hatcher received Grievance number 75442 on February 13, 2004 and directed it to Grievance Officer Julie Knauer. Id.; see Department of Corrections Policy Statement DC-ADM 804, Inmate Grievance System at part (VI)(B)(1)(e) (Feb. 25, 2002) (Pl.'s Ex. D). Knauer responded to plaintiff's grievance on February 26, 2004. She informed him that because more than twelve hours had passed before he had reported the pain in his left testicle to the medical department "nothing can be done clinically except to manage pain symptomatically." See Official Inmate Grievance Initial Review Response from Julie Knauer to plaintiff (Feb. 26, 2011) (Pl.'s Ex. A). She also explained that plaintiff had been examined by two doctors who felt that Motrin was sufficient to alleviate his pain. Id.

Frustrated with Knauer's findings and still in pain, plaintiff filed an Inmate's Request To Staff Member form that he addressed to "Grievance Officer." See Inmate's Request To Staff Member from plaintiff to Grievance Officer (Mar. 2, 2004) (Pl.'s Ex. B). Plaintiff's inmate request form provided a more detailed account of his alleged medical mistreatment. First, plaintiff disputed Knauer's finding that he had waited over twelve hours before reporting his pain to the medical department. Id. He explained that he had been unable to request medical attention on a weekend because "the nures (sic) told me that she does not do sick calls on the weekend, so I had to give it to a nures (sic) on Monday." Id. Next, plaintiff complained that Defendant Arias, a doctor assigned to provide medical care to prisoners confined at SCI-Graterford, had misdiagnosed his condition as an infection and treated him with antibiotics for three days before sending him to a hospital. Id. Finally, plaintiff asserted that "if your so called 'Doctors' (sic) would have did (sic) thire (sic) job's (sic) to begane (sic) with, I would not be in the pain I'm in now!" Id.

Wendy Shaylor received plaintiff's inmate request form on March 3, 2004. Id. As grievance coordinator, Shaylor reviewed all grievances filed by inmates and assigned them to the appropriate grievance officers. (Shaylor Aff. ¶ 2). She was also responsible for reviewing appeals of grievance responses and directing them to the Superintendent of SCI-Graterford. Id. Upon receiving plaintiff's request form, Shaylor wrote the grievance number, 75442, at the top of the page. Id. at ¶ 5. Instead of treating the request form as an appeal and forwarding it to the Superintendent, Shaylor wrote on the inmate request form "Ms. Knauer - You are considered the Grievance Officer and provided the response originally to Mr. Abrahams grievance." See Inmate's Request To Staff Member from plaintiff to Grievance Officer (Mar. 2, 2004) (Pl.'s Ex. B). In Shaylor's affidavit, she asserted that she did not consider plaintiff's request form an appeal because it did not conform with the Inmate Grievance System Policy. Shaylor Aff. ¶ 6. Instead, she believed that plaintiff was seeking "clarification of the findings of . . . Julie Knauer's response" to Grievance Number 75442. Id. at ¶ 4.

There is no evidence in the record that plaintiff ever received a response from Knauer. The only response he received was the note Shaylor put on the form asking Knauer to elaborate on her response to Grievance Number 75442. Pl.'s Br. at 3. Plaintiff filed a second grievance, number 135489, on November 14, 2005. See Grievance No. 135489 from plaintiff to Wendy Moyer (Nov. 14, 2005) (Pl.'s Ex. C). In his second grievance, plaintiff requested the name and title of the medical official who treated him at the January 30, 2004 sick call. Id. He also asked whether that person was "an employee of SCIG, or Prison health (sic) Services." Id. Knauer responded to Grievance number 135489 on November 21, 2005. See Official Inmate Grievance Initial Review Response from Knauer to plaintiff (Nov. 21, 2005) (Pl.'s Ex. C). She informed plaintiff that he had seen "Dr. Germaine, a PHS employee . . . at sick call . . . R.N. Sokolski, a DOC employee . . . and Physician Assistant Korszniak, a PHS employee." Id.


Summary judgment will be granted "against a party who 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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating 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); see Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. If the movant sustains its burden, the non-movant must set forth facts demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact 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, 255 (1986). A fact is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

To establish "that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed," a party must:

(A) cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or

(B) show[ ] that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). The adverse party must raise "more than a mere scintilla of evidence in its favor" in order to overcome a summary judgment motion and cannot survive by relying on unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions. Williams v. Borough of W. Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989). The "existence of disputed issues of material fact should be ascertained by resolving all inferences, doubts and issues of credibility ...

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