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Breeland v. Sissem

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 14, 2013

JOSEPH BREELAND, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT SISSEM, Defendant.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

I. RECOMMENDATION

It is respectfully recommended that:

1. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 24] be denied; and
2. Defendants' motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 43] be denied.

II. REPORT

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

Plaintiff Joseph Breeland, a prisoner formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Albion"), [1] brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against Defendant Sgt. Sissem, a corrections officer at SCI-Albion. In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendant used excessive force against him in violation of his rights under the eighth amendment to the United States Constitution. In particular, Plaintiff alleges that on September 7, 2010, Defendant grabbed him by the back of the neck, pushed him "forcefully" into the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") exercise cage fence, and grabbed him by the penis and testicles stating, "What the fuck you wanna do?" Then, after Defendant escorted Plaintiff from the exercise cage to a strip cage in the RHU, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant put his fist into Plaintiff's jaw outside of the strip cage, causing Plaintiff's jaw to smack against the wall. As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Defendant filed an Answer to Plaintiff's complaint on August 13, 2012. [ECF No. 16]. On October 4, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 24]; however, the motion is not dispositive in nature, as Plaintiff mistakenly requests that the court "grant summary judgment on his part and set a trial date." The parties subsequently completed discovery and Defendant has since filed a motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 43] based entirely upon the content of videotape evidence recorded on five DVD's Defendant submitted with his motion. Plaintiff has filed a brief in opposition to Defendant's motion [ECF No. 48] refuting the videotape evidence offered by Defendant. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Standards of Review

1. Summary Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(2) provides that summary judgment shall be granted 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." Rule 56(e)(2) further provides that when a motion for summary judgment is made and supported, "an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must - by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule - set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against that party."

A district court may grant summary judgment for the defendant when the plaintiff has failed to present any genuine issues of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the initial burden of proving to the district court the absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party's claims. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Andreoli v. Gates , 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir. 2007); UPMC Health System v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. , 391 F.3d 497, 502 (3d Cir. 2004).

The burden then shifts to the non-movant to come forward with specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Williams v. Borough of West Chester, Pa. , 891 F.2d 458, 460-461 (3d Cir. 1989)(the non-movant must present affirmative evidence - more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance - which supports each element of his claim to defeat a properly presented motion for summary judgment). The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show specific facts by affidavit or by information contained in the filed documents (i.e., depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions) to meet his burden of proving elements essential to his claim. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 322. See also Saldana v. Kmart Corp. , 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). The non-moving party "must present more than just bare assertions, ...


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