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Carrington Alan Keys v. District Attorney Jacqueline M. Carroll

September 26, 2012

CARRINGTON ALAN KEYS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY JACQUELINE M. CARROLL, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.188), Plaintiff's Motion to Stay Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 192), and Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 194). Plaintiff Carrington Keys claims his rights under the First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments were violated when staff at the State Correctional Institution atDallas ("SCI-Dallas") assaulted him, threatened him, and interfered with his legal mail in retaliation for filing grievances and complaints concerning prisoner abuse. Because Keys failed to timely file his motion for partial summary judgment, it will be struck as untimely. As Keys has not shown how the information sought from Defendants would preclude summary judgment, his motion to stay summary judgment will be denied. Because Keys fails to allege the personal involvement of numerous defendants and failed to exhaust his administrative remedies concerning an alleged assault, threat, and interference with his legal mail, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted as to those defendants and claims. Because Keys exhausted his administrative remedies as to another alleged assault, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be denied as to those claims.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Carrington Keys is a prisoner at SCI-Camp Hill. The allegations giving rise to his complaint concern actions occurring in 2009 and 2010 at SCI-Dallas, where Keys was incarcerated from November 21, 2007 until April 29, 2010. (Keys Dep. at 8-9, Dec. 7, 2011, Doc. 191.) During all relevant times, Keys was housed in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") at SCI-Dallas. (Id. at 9.) Defendants include: Jeffrey A. Beard, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("Department"); Michael Klopotoski, the Regional Deputy Secretary for the Department; SCI-Dallas Superintendent Jerome Walsh; SCI-Dallas Deputy Superintendent Vincent Mooney; Major of the Guard Joseph Zakarauskas; former SCI-Dallas Mailroom Supervisor Nancy Fedor; and Corrections Officers ("COs") Robert McCoy, Lawrence Pudlosky, Elmore, and Angelovic.*fn1 Except for Beard, all other Defendants are past and present Department employees at SCI-Dallas. (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts at 2, Doc. 190.)

Keys states that on June 28, 2009 and July 13, 2009, he lodged criminal complaints with the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office that were not investigated. (Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 1, Doc. 207). Keys asserts that he submitted information to District Attorney Jacqueline M. Carroll alleging several Defendants' involvement in an inmate's suicide, but she forwarded his complaint to prison officials instead of investigating or prosecuting the matter. (Id.) He also alleges that the prison officials later retaliated against him by assaulting him, harassing him, and interfering with his mail.

Keys claims that the first instance of retaliation against him occurred on August 27, 2009, when Corrections Officers ("CO") Pudlosky and McCoy used racial slurs and insulted him for filing complaints against their superior officers. (Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 2; Pl.'s Am. Compl. at 2-3, Doc. 125.) Keys asserts that COs Pudlosky and McCoy then subjected him to a retaliatory strip search where they used excessive force and assaulted him while he was handcuffed, causing him injury. (Keys Dep. at 10, 17, 25; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 2; Pl.'s Am. Compl. at 3.) He claims that COs Pudlosky and McCoy issued him falsified misconduct reports charging him with assault in order to conceal their abuse of him. (Keys Dep. at 21, 24-25.) Keys states that he filed a grievance against COs Pudlosky and McCoy for assaulting him within a week of the incident, but CO McCoy ripped up the grievance in front of him soon thereafter. (Keys Dep. at 35-36, 38; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 3.) Keys also states that COs Pudlosky and McCoy bragged to the inmates about assaulting him and threatened similar treatment for other inmates participating in the Human Rights Commission (HRC) investigation at SCI-Dallas. (Keys Dep. at 20; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 2.)

Keys claims that the next two instances of retaliation against him both occurred on October 14, 2009. First, while Keys was returning from the exercise yard that day, CO Angelovic threatened Keys for filing complaints with the HRC. (Keys Dep. at 50-51; Pl.'s Am. Compl. at 3.) CO Angelovic told Keys that he should mind his business and that his involvement in the HRC investigation at SCI-Dallas would make him a target. (Id.) Second, Keys asserts that while he was exiting the shower later that day, CO Elmore handcuffed and assaulted him while threatening future abuse if he did not cease his involvement with the HRC investigation. (Keys Dep. at 28-30, 34; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 4.) Keys states that although he filed a grievance concerning the alleged assault by CO Elmore and a grievance about CO Angelovic's statement, he never received a response to either grievance. (Keys Dep. at 34-35, 52-53.) Keys does not have a copy of the grievance against Angelovic. (Id. at 52-53.)

In addition to his allegations of abuse by COs, Keys claims that the staff at SCI-Dallas interfered with his mail, causing two legal matters of his to be dismissed. (Keys Dep. at 40-50; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 3.) The first alleged instance of interference with mail concerns a petition for writ of habeas corpus that Keys filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on March 17, 2010. (Keys Dep. at 40-42; Dep. Ex. 3.) The Commonwealth Court docket shows that the court's filing office sent Keys a defect correction notice on April 6, 2010, and that the matter was dismissed on April 29, 2010. (Dep. Ex. 3) Keys claimed that he never received the notice due to the interference of Mailroom Supervisor Fedor and Major Zakarauskas. (Keys Dep. at 40, 43-44.) Although Keys later sought and received reconsideration of the dismissal on May 14, 2010, the Commonwealth Court dismissed his case on June 15, 2010 because he failed to timely pay the filing fee or apply for in forma pauperis status after the May 14, 2010 order. (Id. at 42-43; Dep. Ex. 3.) Keys states that he never received the May 14, 2010 order. (Keys Dep. at 42-43.)

Keys claims that Fedor interfered with his receipt of legal mail because she had a past practice of forwarding inmate mail to the Security Office. (Keys Dep. at 44-45.) Keys claims that Zakarauskas interfered with his receipt of the defect correction notice because RHU inmates, Keys included, had experienced problems with their legal mail being sent to the Security Office and being opened. (Id. at 45-47.) Keys states that he filed a grievance against Fedor and Zakarauskas for withholding his legal mail but never received a response, despite writing to SCI-Dallas' Grievance Coordinator about its status. (Pl.'s Aff. at 4.)

The second alleged instance of interference with Keys' mail concerns a Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA") petition that he filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on February 25, 2008. (Keys Dep. at 47-50; Criminal Docket at 13-14, Doc. 191.) The court issued a notice of intent to dismiss Keys' pro se PCRA petition on May 2, 2008, and later denied his petition on June 9, 2008. (Criminal Docket at 13-14.) Keys claims that his PCRA action was dismissed because a box of his legal materials was shipped to SCI-Coal Township instead of SCI-Mahanoy, where he was being transferred due to an emergency. (Keys Dep. at 47-50; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 3.) Keys states that when his materials were returned to him, several affidavits central to his PCRA action were missing. (Keys Dep. at 49-50; Pl.'s Aff. in Opp'n at 3.) Keys asserts that Superintendent Walsh, Deputy Superintendent Mooney, and Major Zakarauskas intentionally sent this box to SCI-Coal Township in retaliation for the complaints that Keys filed. (Pl.'s Aff at 3.) He further asserts that he filed a grievance about the mishandling of his legal materials but never received a response, despite writing to SCI-Dallas' Grievance Coordinator about the matter. (Keys Dep. at 54; Pl.'s Aff. at 4.)

Leilani Sears, a Grievance Review Officer in the Department of Corrections, Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals ("SOIGA"), reviewed the Office's records and the grievance tracking system for all grievance appeals filed by Keys from January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. (Sears Dec. at 1, Doc. 191.) She states the following. During that time period, Keys attempted to appeal fifteen (15) grievances to final review. (Id. at 2.) Eight (8) of those fifteen (15) appeals were dismissed as untimely or for other reasons, such as failing to properly complete the grievance appeal process, and Keys lost all seven (7) of his appeals that successfully reached final review. (Id. at 2-3.) Of the seven (7) appeals that reached final review, only two (2) involved issues similar to those in this case. (Id. at 3.) Grievance Number 277626, dated June 17, 2009, concerned Keys' attempt to ship two boxes of unidentified legal and religious material out of SCI-Dallas. (Sears Dec., Ex. A.) Keys claimed that his boxes were being held in an attempt to harass him, but his appeal was denied because his inmate account did not have sufficient funds to cover the shipping costs. (Id.) Grievance Number 306030, dated February 3, 2010, concerned outgoing legal mail being sent to United States District Court and Bankruptcy Court and to a Ms. Dye. (Sears Dec., Ex. B.) Keys claimed that his outgoing mail was not sent on January 24, 2010 due to staff stealing or purposely destroying it, but his appeal was denied because his envelope to United States District Court and Bankruptcy Court was in fact sent on that date. (Id.)

Finally, Keys alleges that Defendants Beard, Klopotoski, Walsh, Mooney, and Zakarauskas ("the Supervisory Defendants") "knew or were deliberately indifferent to knowing that unconstitutional policies, practices and customs were in place." (Pl.'s Am. Compl. at 7.) Specifically, Keys claims that the Supervisory Defendants had the policy or custom of permitting COs at SCI-Dallas to discriminate against and abuse prisoners who filed grievances or complaints. (Id.) He also alleges that the Supervisory Defendants were deliberately indifferent in failing to train SCI-Dallas personnel in lawful constitutional policies and procedures for treating inmates who file grievances and failing to provide proper surveillance at the prison. (Id. at 6.)

Keys filed his initial Complaint in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging, inter alia, assault, mail tampering, retaliation, and failure to prosecute. The Defendants removed the action to federal court. (Doc. 1.) In his Amended Complaint (Doc. 125), Keys alleges Defendants' actions violated his rights: (1) to be secure in his person and property under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments;

(2) to petition for redress of grievances under the First Amendment; (3) to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment; (4) of equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments; and (5) of substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Keys also claims assault and battery under state law. He seeks a permanent injunction and monetary damages against all Defendants.

These motions are now ripe and ready for the Court's review.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. An issue of material fact is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has the initial burden of proving that: (1) there is no genuine issue of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See 2D Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 2727 (2d ed. 1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to the court that "the nonmoving party has ...


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