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Zullinger v. York County Ccc Halfway House

United States District Court, Third Circuit

June 3, 2013

JASON L. ZULLINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
YORK COUNTY CCC HALFWAY HOUSE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

LAWRENCE F. STENGEL, District Judge.

Jason Zullinger brings this civil rights action against the York Community Corrections Center ("YCCC") and several female members of its staff alleging various violations of his constitutional rights. Mr. Zullinger claims that while residing at YCCC, he was deprived of property without due process of law and was unlawfully searched, humiliated, and embarrassed all in violation of his right to privacy, his right not to be subjected to illegal searches, and his right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment to which the plaintiff responded. For the following reasons, I will grant the motion in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 1, 2008, after pleading guilty to a charge of Driving Under the Influence ("DUI"), Mr. Zullinger was sentenced to twenty-four months in state prison. See Zullinger Dep. at 15. He had been previously cited multiple times for other DUI incidents, and he admitted that he has a problem with excessive drinking. Id. at 18-19. On June 20, 2008, Mr. Zullinger applied for and was admitted to the State Intermediate Punishment ("SIP") Program, [1] a program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On July 13, 2008, Mr. Zullinger was transferred from SCI Camp Hill to SCI Chester. As part of the SIP program, Mr. Zullinger was released to proceed to the next phase which consisted of sixty days of inpatient rehabilitation at ADAPPT, [2] a private facility in Reading, Pennsylvania. See Zullinger Dep. 17. On July 13, 2009, Mr. Zullinger was transferred from ADAPPT to YCCC[3] where he served the remainder of his twenty-four month sentence. Id. at 17. Mr. Zullinger was never paroled. Id. at 18.

YCCC is "wholly operated and managed" by the Commonwealth's Department of Corrections. See Sommers Declaration at ¶ 4. At YCCC, Mr. Zullinger gave urine specimens in a bathroom that measured four feet by eight feet. The bathroom was located on the first floor and contained a sink, a toilet, and a mirror that was angled so that urination could be observed. See Zullinger Dep. at 38-40; see also Zullinger Dep. Ex. 5. At least one monitor was present in the bathroom with Mr. Zullinger while he was urinating. At the time of Mr. Zullinger's incarceration, YCCC did not have any male monitors. See Zullinger Dep. at 87-88.

Mr. Zullinger was always clothed when he provided urine samples. Id. at 72-74. According to Mr. Zullinger, Defendant Stover, a YCCC monitor, once made a derogatory comment about the size of Mr. Zullinger's penis while she was observing him urinate. Id. at 54.

While at ADAPPT, Mr. Zullinger worked at the Outback Steakhouse in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Id. at 56. When Mr. Zullinger learned that he was being transferred to YCCC, he spoke with the manager at the Wyomissing Outback about a possible transfer to the Outback Steakhouse in York, Pennsylvania. Id. at 58. Mr. Zullinger never spoke to the manager at the York Outback. Id. at 59. However, Mr. Zullinger's counselor at YCCC, Defendant Maxine Stanley, refused to allow Mr. Zullinger to apply for a job at the York Outback Steakhouse because that particular location served alcohol. See Stanley Dep. at 84-85. Miss Stanley approved Mr. Zullinger for several other jobs.

Mr. Zullinger filed a three-count complaint in this court. Count One brings a claim against Defendant Stanley for the deprivation of his procedural due process rights for allegedly forcing him to terminate his employment at the Outback Steakhouse in York. Count Two brings a claim against YCCC itself for engaging "in a custom, practice, and policy of unlawfully using female employees to regularly take urine samples from male inmates." Finally, Count Three brings a claim against six individual female staff members at YCCC for "personally peer[ing] at and view[ing] the plaintiff's genitals, more specifically his penis, as he urinated in a cup." He contends that these urine examinations violated his rights against unlawful searches, his rights to privacy, and his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A 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 judgment as a matter of law. FED.R.CIV.P. 56(a). A dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility for informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, admissions, interrogatory answers or other materials. FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c)(1)(A). That is, summary judgment is appropriate if the non-moving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. at 322. Under Rule 56, the court must view the evidence presented on the motion in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. at 255. The court must decide not whether the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented. Id. at 252. If the non-moving party has exceeded the mere scintilla of evidence threshold and has offered a genuine issue of material fact, then the court cannot credit the movant's version of events against the opponent, even if the quantity of the movant's evidence far outweighs that of its opponent. Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America, Inc. , 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).

III. DISCUSSION

Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a private party may recover in an action against any person acting under the color of state law who deprives the party of his or her constitutional rights. In order to succeed on a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution, and (2) that the constitutional deprivation was ...


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