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Eric Hall v. Eugene H. Berdanier

March 23, 2012

ERIC HALL, PLAINTIFF
v.
EUGENE H. BERDANIER, WARDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



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

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

The pro se plaintiff, Eric Hall, an inmate at SCI-Coal Township, filed this action for events that occurred while he was confined at the Schuylkill County Prison.*fn1

The complaint presents federal and state-law civil-rights claims against various defendants, all stemming from an altercation Plaintiff had with prison personnel on June 4, 2007.

One defendant in the case is Gina Marie Galle, a licensed practical nurse employed by PrimeCare Medical, Inc. Other defendants are the eleven "Schuylkill County Prison Defendants": Eugene H. Berdanier, the prison warden; David J. Wapinsky, the deputy warden; Richard Emerich, a lieutenant; and eight correction al officers, John Wowak, Frank Rempalo, Brian Gotshall, Michael Buchanan, Charles Foster, Harold Poleman, Rebecca Bergan, and Farrone.*fn2

Plaintiff makes the following claims against the following defendants: (1) a federal claim for retaliation against Rempalo and Wowak for exercising his constitutional right to stand trial on criminal charges against him; (2) an Eighth Amendment claim for excessive force against Wowak, Rempalo, Gotshall, Buchanan, Foster, Bergan, Poleman, Farone and Emerich; (3) a state-law claim for assault and battery against Wowak, Rempalo and Gotshall; (4) a state-law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Wowak, Rempalo, and Gotshall; (5) an Eighth Amendment claim for excessive force: (a) against Berdanier and Wapinsky based on knowledge and acquiescence in subordinates' use of excessive force; and (b) against Berdanier for failing to train subordinates in the proper use of force and in the proper use of pepper-spray type chemicals; (6) a conspiracy claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Yoder, Wowak, and Galle for an "unlawful arrest," i.e. false arrest,*fn3 and malicious prosecution; (7) a federal claim for malicious prosecution against Yoder, Wowak, and Galle; (8) a state-law claim for false arrest against Yoder, Wowak, and Galle; (9) a state-law claim for false imprisonment against Yoder, Wowak, and Galle; (10) a state-law claim for abuse of process against Yoder, Wowak, and Galle; and (11) a state-law claim for defamation against Yoder, Wowak, and Galle.*fn4

We are considering two motions for summary judgment, one filed by the Schuylkill County Prison Defendants and the other by Galle.

II. Standard of Review

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, summary judgment should be granted "if the movant shows 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). In pertinent part, parties moving for, or opposing, summary judgment must support their position by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for the purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3). "'The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'" Meditz v. City of Newark, 658 F.3d 364, 369 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).

III. Discussion

A. The Galle Motion for Summary Judgment

As noted above, along with Yoder and Wowak, Galle was named in the following six claims: (1) a federal conspiracy claim for false arrest and malicious prosecution; (2) a federal claim for malicious prosecution; (3) a state-law claim for false arrest; (4) a state-law claim for false imprisonment; (5) a state-law claim for abuse of process; and (6) a state-law claim for defamation.

Galle moves for summary judgment on all of these claims. On the defamation claim, she asserts it is barred by the one-year statute of limitations, 42 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. § 5523(1) (West 2004), because the record shows that the last comments she made about Plaintiff were on March 10, 2008, at his criminal trial, and Plaintiff filed this action on May 29, 2009, more than a year later.*fn5 She also points out that at his deposition, Plaintiff stated he no longer wanted to pursue the defamation claim against her. ...


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