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Albert Juan Ortiz v. Prison Board Members

June 14, 2012


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


Before the court is Defendants Warden Dominick DeRose, Captain Lahr, and Deputy Warden Nichols's ("moving Defendants") unopposed motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 63.) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

I. Background

A. Facts*fn1

At all times relevant to this complaint, Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee confined in Dauphin County Prison ("DCP"), Pennsylvania.*fn2 (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ("SMF"), ¶¶ 1, 2.) Specifically, on May 29, 2008, an altercation broke out on the cell on which Plaintiff was housed. (Id. ¶ 4.) As a result, Plaintiff's entire cell block was placed on lock-down status. (Id. ¶ 5.) Although the block remained on lock-down for an unspecified period, Plaintiff was able to obtain "bedding, hygiene products, legal materials, written correspondence materials, one religious book, two books for counseling, underclothing, socks and thermal underwear while on lock-down status." (Id. ¶¶ 6, 7.) In addition, Plaintiff was able to meet with both his attorney and spiritual advisor while on lock-down. (Id. ¶ 8.)

On June 16, 2008, while Plaintiff was still housed on this block, the inmates instigated a riot which involved assaulting staff, destroying property, and jamming the locks on cell doors so that they could not be closed. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 11.) As a result of the severity of this incident, Plaintiff's entire cell block was put on "segregation issue" status to maintain the health and safety of the prison staff and inmates. (Id. ¶ 14.) While on "segregation issue" status, Plaintiff was provided a blanket, mattress, jumpsuit, toilet paper and access to water. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) Plaintiff remained on "segregation issue" status until sometime around July 16, 2008, however, the status was not continuous for this entire time period. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 18.) Rather, prison officials took the block off "segregation issue" status, but were forced to reinstate it when inmates acted disruptively. (Id. ¶ 19.)

On July 16, 2008, Plaintiff was written up for destruction of prison property, blocking locking devices, disruptive behavior, and possession of contraband, and was thus put on lock-down status from August 15, 2008, to August 29, 2008. (Id. ¶ 20.)

When Plaintiff was first committed to Dauphin County Prison, he was a provided with a copy of the Dauphin County Inmate Handbook. (Id. ¶ 24.) Contained in this handbook are the Inmate Grievance Guidelines used by Dauphin County Prison. (Id. ¶ 25.) Despite being in receipt of the inmate grievance process, Plaintiff did not file any grievances with prison administration. (Id. ¶¶ 28-34.)

b. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his original complaint with this court on November 24, 2008. (Doc. 1.) On June 1, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint, which was granted on June 22, 2010. (Docs. 33 & 34.)

On February 28, 2011, this court dismissed all claims against moving Defendants except for that of unconstitutional conditions of confinement. (Doc. 51.) Subsequently, on September 1, 2011, moving Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment, brief in support, and statement of material undisputed facts. (Docs. 63, 64 & 65.) After receiving no response from Plaintiff, on April 23, 2012, the court issued a rule to show cause by May 7, 2012, why Defendants' motion should not be deemed unopposed. (Doc. 71.) As of the date of this memorandum and order, Plaintiff has still not filed a response. Therefore, the court will deem the motion unopposed and ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 sets forth the standard and procedures for the grant of summary judgment. Rule 56(a) provides, "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Fed R. Civ. P. 56(a)*fn3 ; see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323.

A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 248. When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a court "must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party," and draw all reasonable ...

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