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Jeffrey Marten v. Christine Mancini

December 14, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Baxter


United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.


A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

On February 18, 2011, Plaintiff Jeffrey Marten, a prisoner incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Forest"), initiated this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. ' 1983, against Defendant Christine Mancini, a psychologist employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and formerly assigned to SCI-Forest.

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, on November 18, 2009, he informed Defendant that he was experiencing "intense suicidal tendencies" and asked to be placed in an observation cell. (ECF No. 1, Complaint, at ¶ 5). In addition, Plaintiff allegedly informed Defendant that he had attempted suicide "months earlier" at another institution and that the psychology staff there had implemented an individual treatment plan for him. (Id. at ¶ 6). Nonetheless, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant "took no action whatsoever to prevent Plaintiff from attempting suicide." (Id. at ¶ 7). The next day, Plaintiff cut his forearm in two places with a razor blade and was placed in a "psychiatric observation cell with a smock and suicide blanket under constant watch." (Id. at ¶¶ 8, 11). On November 23, 2009, Plaintiff was then committed to the Mental Health Unit at SCICresson for further treatment. (Id. at ¶ 13). Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff claims that Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Defendant filed an answer to Plaintiff's complaint on June 6, 2011. [ECF No. 10]. On the same date, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment seeking the entry of judgment against Defendant as a matter of law. [ECF No. 11]. On September 28, 2011, Defendant filed her own motion for summary judgment seeking the entry of judgment in her favor based on Plaintiff's alleged failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. [ECF No. 19]. Each party has subsequently filed a response to the other party's pending motion. [ECF Nos. 23, 26]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Standards of Review

1. Summary Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(2) provides that summary judgment shall be granted if the Apleadings, 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.@ Rule 56(e)(2) further provides that when a motion for summary judgment is made and supported, Aan opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must B by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule B set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against that party.@

A district court may grant summary judgment for the defendant when the plaintiff has failed to present any genuine issues of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the initial burden of proving to the district court the absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party=s claims. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Andreoli v. Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir. 2007); UPMC Health System v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 391 F.3d 497, 502 (3d Cir. 2004).

The burden then shifts to the non-movant to come forward with specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Williams v. Borough of West Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 460-461 (3d Cir. 1989)(the non-movant must present affirmative evidence - more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance - which supports each element of his claim to defeat a properly presented motion for summary judgment). The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show specific facts by affidavit or by information contained in the filed documents (i.e., depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions) to meet his burden of proving elements essential to his claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. See also Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). The non-moving party Amust present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue.@ Garcia v. Kimmell, 2010 WL 2089639, at * 1 (3d Cir. 2010) quoting Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both genuine and material. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The court must consider the evidence, and all reasonable inferences which may be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). See also El v. SEPTA, 479 F.3d 232, 238 (3d Cir. 2007).

A material fact is a fact whose resolution will affect the outcome of the case under applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Summary judgment is only precluded if the dispute about a material fact is Agenuine,@ i.e., if the evidence is such that a reasonable ...

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