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Alan Smith v. Janine Donate

August 15, 2012

ALAN SMITH,
PLAINTIFF
v.
JANINE DONATE, ET AL., :: DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

(Magistrate Judge Carlson)

MEMORANDUM

I. Background

The captioned action was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by a pro se Plaintiff, Alan Smith, who is a state prisoner. Presently before the court is a report and recommendation filed by Magistrate Judge Carlson, recommending disposition of Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has filed objections to the report and recommendation and the matter is ripe for disposition.

II. The Magistrate Judge's Recommendations

Smith's complaint is composed of 224 paragraphs. The magistrate judge has carefully parsed through the complaint and has discerned that the claims presented in the complaint are Eighth Amendment claims and a Due Process claim.

The Eighth Amendment claims are (1) use of excessive force by others; (2) failing to intervene in use of excessive force by others; (3) failing to protect Smith from inmate assaultive violence and promoting such violence by labeling Smith as a child molester and a cooperating witness; (4) deliberate indifference to Smith's medical needs; and (5) failing to provide Smith with conditions of confinement which met the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities. The magistrate judge has accurately stated the law applicable to Eighth Amendment claims and has accurately applied the law to the facts of this case.

A. Use of Excessive Force and Failure to Intervene Claims

On the issue of excessive force in the cell extraction, the magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be denied as to Defendants Stanley, Blume and Mallick. On the issue of failure to protect during the cell extraction, the magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be denied as to Defendants Carrol and Zemantauski. On the other excessive force claims -- use of handcuffs while being transported within the prison, the magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be denied as to Defendants Talutto and Moskwa.

B. Failure to Protect Smith From Inmate Assaultive Violence as a Result of Labeling Smith as a Child Molester and Cooperating Witness The magistrate judge distinguished this claim as being different from mere verbal harassment. The magistrate judge opined that a jury could find that if staff were found to have intentionally created disclosures that openly identified Smith as a child molester and a cooperating witness, such could create and foster inmate violence toward Smith; thus, a failure to protect claim might be sustained. The magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment, as to this claim, be denied as to Defendants Capone, Blume, Mallick and Talutto.

C. Medical Care Claims

The magistrate judge noted these claims were general and vague and often the complaints were leveled against unnamed health care providers. No personal involvement was alleged specifically against any of the correctional officers named in the complaint. The magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be granted to the Defendants on this claim with the exception of Smith's claim against Defendants Blume, Mallick and Talluto for allegedly waiting four and one-half to seven hours after Smith requested immediate help after he had a caustic cleaning substance sprayed in his eyes.

D. Conditions of Confinement

The magistrate judge cited to the specific claims as to the conditions of confinement alleged in the complaint and cited applicable case law where the instances cited by Plaintiff have not been considered worthy of relief. The magistrate judge recommended that Defendants Chiarelli and Kearney be granted summary judgment on these claims.

E. Due Process Violations

Plaintiff's claim of Due Process violations stems from a disciplinary proceeding against Plaintiff which resulted in Plaintiff receiving 100 days of disciplinary custody. The disciplinary action involved Defendants Maloney and Hebron. Citing to Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995), the magistrate judge found that regardless of the factual dispute surrounding the disciplinary hearing, the penalty imposed did not implicate a liberty interest triggering due process protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

F. Claims Against Warden Donate

Throughout the complaint, Plaintiff makes claims against Warden Donate, couched in such terms as:

Defendant Jaime Donate is the Warden of Lackawanna County Prison. She is legally responsible for the daily operation of the Lackawanna County Prison and for the welfare of all the inmates at that prison. (Doc. 1 at p. 207.) The magistrate judge relied on Rode v. Dellariciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988), and subsequent cases, which held that "liability cannot be predicated solely the operation of respondeat superior." Furthermore, participation in the after-the fact review of a grievance or appeal is not enough to establish the personal involvement requirement. Id. at 1208. In Brooks v. Beard, 167 Fed. Appx. 923, 925 (3d Cir. 2006) (nonprecedential), the court held that a state prisoner's allegation that prison officials and administrators responded inappropriately, or failed to respond to a prison grievance, did not establish that the officials and administrators were involved in the underlying allegedly unconstitutional conduct.

G. Summary of Recommendations

Based on the foregoing, the magistrate judge has made the following recommendations:

1. The District Court should GRANT summary judgment in favor of defendants Donate, Maloney, Hebron, Kearney, and Chiarelli.

2. The District Court Should GRANT summary judgment in favor of the remaining defendants on Smith's conditions of confinement claims.

3. The District Court Should GRANT summary judgment in favor of the remaining defendants on Smith's medical deliberate neglect claims, with the exception of Smith's claim that a caustic cleaning substance was sprayed in his eyes on November 20, 2008, and defendants Blume, Mallick and Talutto ignored his request for help, and denied him water to rinse out his eyes, for approximately four and one half hours before transporting Smith to be seen by medical personnel.

4. The District Court Should GRANT summary judgment in favor of the remaining defendants on Smith's claims which relate ...


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