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Philip Carpenter v. Superintendent Kloptoski

March 16, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner


Plaintiff Philip Carpenter ("Carpenter" or "plaintiff"), a state inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Dallas"), commenced this civil action on December 15, 2008. The matter is presently proceeding via an amended complaint filed on July 22, 2009. (Doc. 39.) Ripe for disposition is a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, filed on behalf of defendant Dr. Jane Jesse ("Jesse"). (Doc. 140). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

I. Standard of Review

Through summary adjudication the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine issue as to any material fact" and for which a jury trial would be an empty and unnecessary formality. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c).

The burden of proof is upon the non-moving party to come forth with "affirmative evidence, beyond the allegations of the pleadings," in support of its right to relief. Pappas v. City of Lebanon, 331 F. Supp. 2d 311, 315 (M.D. Pa. 2004); FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). This evidence must be adequate, as a matter of law, to sustain a judgment in favor of the non-moving party on the claims. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-57 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-89 (1986); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c), (e). Only if this threshold is met may the cause of action proceed. Pappas, 331 F. Supp. 2d at 315.

The pertinent portions of the Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rules of Court, which are set forth in the Standing Practice Order served upon plaintiff on December 15, 2008 (Doc. 7), provide that, in addition to filing a brief in response to the moving party's brief in support, "[t]he papers opposing a motion for summary judgment shall include a separate, short and concise statement of material facts responding to the numbered paragraphs set forth in the statement [of material facts filed by the moving party] . . . , as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried." See M.D. Pa. LR 56. 1. The rule further states that the statement of material facts required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement required to be served by the opposing party. See id. In addition to being notified of the rule via the Standing Practice Order, plaintiff was directed to this local rule requirement and ordered to file a statement of material facts responding to defendant's statement on April 22, 2011. (Doc. 162) Although Carpenter submitted a statement of facts (Doc. 168), the statement is not in compliance with the Local Rules of Court. Specifically, he failed to include a separate, short and concise statement of material facts responding to the numbered paragraphs set forth in the statement of material facts filed by defendant. Carpenter filed a fifteen-page statement of facts containing fifty-six paragraphs which do not correspond in any manner with the twenty-nine paragraphs of facts set forth in defendant's statement and are largely irrelevant to the claims against defendant Jesse. (Doc. 142, at 1-5; Doc. 168, at 1-15.) Because plaintiff has failed to file a separate statement of material facts controverting the statement filed by defendant, all material facts set forth in defendant's statement (Doc. 142) will be deemed admitted.

II. Statement of Material Facts

Carpenter has been incarcerated at SCI-Dallas, and housed on F-Block for the past twenty-five years. (Doc. 39, at 1.) In February, 2009, he was informed that his single cell, or Z code, status would be revoked. (Doc. 168, ¶ 36.) He does not know who revoked his Z code status. (Doc. 164-1, at 20.) Complaints and requests to prison administration concerning the revocation led to two separate interviews with defendant Jesse, a psychiatrist under contract who provided psychiatric services to inmates at SCI-Dallas. (Doc. 142, at ¶ 3; Doc. 168, ¶ 42.)

He was first interviewed on March 16, 2009. (Doc. 142, at ¶ 11.) At that time, defendant Jesse noted that Carpenter said "I don't want to lose my Z-code." (Id. at ¶ 11.) He indicated that he had an extensive psychiatric history. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Defendant Jesse noted that he was alert and oriented times three and in no acute distress. (Id. at ¶ 13.) "His thoughts were goal directed, his mood was frustrated and his affect was congruent." (Id. citing Exhibit "B.") He was clearly concerned about the Z-code issue. (Id.) Defendant Jesse concluded that he was "stable psychiatrically" and informed Carpenter that he should speak to the security staff regarding his single cell status issue. (Id. at ¶ 14.)

Carpenter saw defendant Jesse again on April 3, 2009. At that time, he presented her with medical and psychological records from 1984. (Doc. 140, at 11; Doc. 168, at ¶ 46; Doc. 164-1, at 19.) He accused her of taking away his Z code status and reported being unhappy because he had been double-celled for a week. (Doc. 142, ¶¶ 15-16.) He stated that he didn't deserve this because the "policy says rape victims can be single celled." (Id. at ¶ 16.) He informed her that Dr. Bohinski refused to see him and he felt that they were "playing games" with him. (Id.) He also reported that he "last had psych help in the 80s." (Id. at ¶ 17.) Defendant Jesse observed that he had a negative attitude and was mad about losing the Z code status and having a cell mate. (Doc. 140, at 11.) She explained that he would not maintain a single cell status based on a psychiatric condition. (Doc. 142, ¶ 20.) He demanded that defendant Jesse pull up his old records and that she "owed it to him." (Id.) As the interview progressed, Carpenter became more angry and demanding and insisted that defendant Jesse and security were playing with him. (Doc. 140, at 11.) Defendant Jesse concluded that there was no evidence of psychosis, that Carpenter was "stable psychiatrically," and that there was no need for medication or for a follow-up meeting. (Id.) She reiterated to plaintiff that if he felt that strongly about the Z code issue, he should either pursue legal measures or revisit the issue with the security staff. (Doc. 142, ¶ 22.)

Defendant Jesse reviewed plaintiff's medical records in conjunction with her evaluations of plaintiff and concluded that he did not have a serious medical need that required single cell status. (Doc. 142, at ¶¶ 9-10.) She indicates that she has no power to direct how inmates are celled; Carpenter believes that defendant Jesse, in her capacity as a doctor, has the authority to make the ultimate decision regarding inmate's cell status. (Id. at ¶ 7; Doc. 164-1, at 20.) Although defendant Jesse is required to exercise her professional judgment in determining whether an inmate's mental health requires single cell status, she can only make a recommendation to The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC:). (Id. at ¶ 8.) The DOC is solely responsible for inmate cell assignments. (Doc. 142, at ¶ 7.)

III. Discussion

Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to ...

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