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Troy Anthony King v. Chester County Prison

March 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schiller, J.


Pro se Plaintiff Troy Anthony King alleges that Defendants Chester County Prison, Warden D. Edward McFadden, Director of Inmate Services Jack Healy, and Director of Inmate Employment Ray Rojevich unlawfully discriminated against him by prohibiting him from working in the prison kitchen because he is HIV-positive. Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has not filed a response in opposition to the motion. While Defendants request that the Court treat the motion as unopposed, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) and Local Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1, the Court must determine whether there exists a genuine dispute of any material fact. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion will be granted.


King is HIV-positive, and he was an inmate housed at Defendant Chester County Prison. (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. [Defs.' SOF] ¶¶ 1, 4.) During his incarceration, King requested to work in the prison's kitchen several times, which was denied. (Id. ¶ 3.) At $5.00 per day, work assignments in the kitchen are among the highest-paid positions in the prison. (Defs.' Mot. Ex. A [Policies and Procedures: Work Assignments and Programs].)

King filed an Inmate Grievance Form on Sept. 15, 2010, in which he alleged a violation of his rights because of the denial of his repeated requests to work in the kitchen. King noted that Defendant Rojevich had said he would instead try to get him a job in laundry or night housekeeping. (Compl. Ex. A [Inmate Grievance Form].) King claimed that he was told by the medical unit that "due to a policy in effect [he was] not allowed to work in the kitchen due to the fact [he] was HIV-positive." (Id.) King also stated that staff members told him to speak with Defendant Healy about the situation, but that he had received no response to his letter to Healy. (Id.) Healy reviewed and signed the grievance form on September 20, 2010. (Id.)

Chester County Prison issued a response to King's grievance, concluding that the "grievance is unfounded and without merit." (Compl. Ex. B [Grievance Response].) The response asserted that "[i]nstitutional job assignments are a privilege and not a right, and while an inmate may request to be assigned to a specific area, it is only a request and not in any way a binding agreement." (Id.) The response also listed the criteria that are reviewed when considering approval for an institutional work assignment, including the inmate's charges, the length of his or her sentence, the work supervisor's recommendation, and "health related issues," among others. (Id.) The response further noted that King refused to be considered for another job after he was denied the position in the kitchen. (Id.)

On October 22, 2010, King appealed the disposition of his inmate grievance and named multiple individuals in the medical unit who "state[d] that [it] is a rule of the prison to prevent people with HIV from working in the kitchen." (Compl. Ex. D [Grievance Appeal].) King also alleged that other prison staff members also stated that such a policy existed. (Id.)

On November 5, 2010, Defendant McFadden issued a two-sentence response to King's appeal. (Compl Ex. C [Inmate Grievance Appeal Response].) The appeal response did not address or dispute whether there was a prison policy that prevented individuals with HIV from working in the kitchen. (Id.) Instead, the response merely stated that, upon a review of King's request and information available, the disposition is "left unchanged." (Id.)

Defendants deny that Chester County Prison has a policy or practice that prohibits HIV-positive inmates from working in the kitchen. On the contrary, Defendants argue that Chester County Prison adheres to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' Access to Health Care Procedures manual, which states that "[a]n inmate with chronic disease (HIV, Hepatitis B and C) may work in food service." (Defs.' SOF ¶ 11; Defs.' Mem. Ex. B [Access to Health Care Procedures Manual].) The Pennsylvania procedures only limit assignments in food service for inmates with open wounds, acute respiratory infections, or acute Hepatitis A. (Access to Health Care Procedures Manual.) Furthermore, Chester County Prison's policies also provide that the prison "will not discriminate inmates' access to work assignment based on race, religion, national origin, gender or disability." (Policies and Procedures: Work Assignments and Programs.) Instead, the prison makes work assignments "after considering inmates classification, adjustment record, prior employment, skills, training, medical ability, and the needs of the prison." (Id.)

Plaintiff filed this case against Defendants on December 1, 2010. Upon the completion of the discovery period, Defendants filed the pending motion for summary judgment on November 4, 2011. Defendants contend, however, that King engaged in no fact discovery and presents no evidence to support his claim. (Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. [Defs.' Mem.] at 1.) King has not responded to Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the admissible evidence fails to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). When the movant does not bear the burden of persuasion at trial, it may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to carry its burden of persuasion. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

Thereafter, the nonmoving party demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact if it provides evidence sufficient to allow a reasonable finder of fact to find in its favor at trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In reviewing the record, a court "must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor." Prowel v. Wise Bus. Forms, 32 F.3d 768, 777 (3d Cir. 2009). The court may not, however, make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in considering motions for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also Goodman v. Pa. Tpk. Comm'n,293 F.3d 655, 665 (3d Cir. 2002).

Although Plaintiff is acting pro se, he is not relieved of his obligation to present evidence that a genuine issue of material fact exists for trial. See Watson v. Phila. Hous. Auth., 629 F. Supp. 2d 481, 485 (E.D. Pa. 2009). Unsubstantiated arguments made in briefs are not considered evidence of ...

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