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Gerald Funk v. Charles Custer

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


September 12, 2011

GERALD FUNK,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES CUSTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS

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

ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Gerald Funk, an inmate confined at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter proceeds on an amended complaint wherein he sets forth allegations against Jeffery Beard, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and several employees at SCI-Coal Township, Pennsylvania, his former place of confinement. He alleges that Defendants violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights when they subjected him to environmental tobacco smoke in violation of a medical order and retaliated against him for filing grievances and complaints with respect to the exposure. On March 31, 2011, the Court issued a Memorandum and Order granting a partial motion to dismiss the amended complaint filed on behalf of Corrections Defendants Beard, Custer, Varano and Dunn. (Doc. No. 50.) Specifically, all claims set forth against these Defendants in their official capacities for monetary damages were dismissed as were all claims set forth against Beard in this action. In addition, the Court denied a motion to dismiss the amended complaint filed on behalf of Defendant Dr. Stanish. Since the issuance of the March 31, 2011 opinion, Defendants Custer, Varano, Dunn and Stanish have filed answers to the amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 52, 57.) Presently pending on the docket are Plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment (Doc. No. 43) and motion to compel responses to outstanding discovery requests (Doc. No. 48).

Without unnecessary elaboration, Plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment will be denied. In the motion he requests the Court to make certain declarations including findings that Defendants have violated his statutory and Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with a smoke free environment, despite medical orders not to expose him to cigarette smoke. This the Court will not do. Any such motion is procedurally improper. Plaintiff attempts to circumvent the adjudication on the merits of the claims in this action through the proper channels of discovery, pre-trial motions and/or trial. The Court has ruled upon Defendants' motions to dismiss in this case, and the claims are proceeding with respect to all Defendants except Beard. The parties are currently engaging in discovery at this time. The procedural posture of this case is that evidence is being gathered and developed by the parties, and any request at this stage to bypass the litigation process is improper. Following the close of discovery, the parties will be afforded the opportunity to file any appropriate dispositive motions along with supporting evidentiary materials. For these reasons, Plaintiff's motion will be denied.*fn1

Plaintiff has also filed a motion to compel discovery in this action. (Doc. No. 48.) The motion appears to be directed at the Corrections Defendants and not at Defendant Stanish. In the motion, Plaintiff maintains that Corrections Defendants have failed to respond in any fashion to outstanding requests for admissions and the production of documents, and have yet to provide responses to interrogatories.*fn2 He sets forth a list of all outstanding discovery requests in his supporting brief. (Doc. No. 49 at 3.) Defendants have failed to oppose the motion to compel. As such, the motion will be granted to the extent that Defendants will be directed to provide Plaintiff with responses to all outstanding discovery requests. The only exception is with respect to any requests served upon Defendant Beard since he has been dismissed from this action.*fn3

Defendants are to provide Plaintiff with their responses within twenty (20) days.

AND NOW, THIS 12th DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2011, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:

1. Plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment (Doc. No. 43) is denied.

2. Plaintiff's motion to compel (Doc. No. 48) is granted to the extent that the Corrections Defendants are directed to respond to all outstanding discovery requests within twenty (20) days from the date of this order.

3. All discovery in this case shall be completed within sixty (60) days from the date of this order. Any dispositive motions shall be filed within thirty (30) days from the close of discovery.

YVETTE KANE, Chief Judge Middle District of Pennsylvania


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