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Jones v. Taylor

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

March 24, 2014

MARCELLUS A. JONES, Plaintiff
v.
TAYLOR, CAMPBELL and MCCLOSKEY, Defendants

Mehalchick Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY JUDGE United States District Court

Before the court for disposition is Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick’s report and recommendation (hereinafter “R&R”). (Doc. 86). The R&R proposes granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim. (Doc. 74). Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R (Doc. 94), and they are ripe for disposition.

Background

In 2011, Plaintiff Marcellus A. Jones (hereinafter “plaintiff”) was incarcerated within the Restricted Housing Unit at the State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon (hereinafter “SCI-Huntingdon”). (Doc. 77, Defs.’ Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter “SOF”) ¶ 1). Between May 23, 2011 and June 6, 2011, Plaintiff was issued ten (10) misconduct reports for spitting on staff. (Id. ¶¶ 3-17). These incidents occurred while Plaintiff was housed within an observation cell at SCI-Huntingdon. (Id. ¶ 23).

On June 7, 2011, Defendant Taylor ed Defendants Campbell and McCloskey to place packing tape around the sides and top of the door where plaintiff had been spitting. (Doc. 76-10, Ex. J, Decl. of Lt. A. Taylor (hereinafter “Taylor Decl.”) ¶¶ 28-29). The tape was a temporary measure until the facility was able to construct a mobile partition that could be placed in front of plaintiff’s cell. (Id. ¶ 34). The packing tape was only on plaintiff’s cell for one or two days. (Id.)

In response, plaintiff initiated the above-captioned pro se action by filing a complaint under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1, Compl.). In his complaint, plaintiff alleged twelve (12) employees of SCI-Huntingdon terrorized him in violation of his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

Magistrate Judge Blewitt screened plaintiff’s complaint and on March 23, 2012, directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 6). Plaintiff filed a timely amended complaint on April 24, 2012, claiming eleven (11) individual SCI-Huntingdon employees were not properly trained or supervised. (Doc. 10, Am. Compl.). Additionally, plaintiff asserted a myriad of First and Eighth Amendment violations against these eleven (11) defendants. (Id.)

Magistrate Judge Blewitt issued an R&R on September 11, 2012, (Doc. 16), which the court adopted on October 5, 2012 (Doc. 18). The court dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims except for his Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim against Defendants Taylor, Campbell and McCloskey (collectively “defendants”) regarding the placement of tape around his cell door. (Id.)

At the conclusion of discovery, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 74). On January 30, 2014, Magistrate Judge Mehalchick issued an R&R recommending that the court grant defendants’ motion for summary judgment.[1] On March 11, 2014, plaintiff filed objections to the R&R (Doc. 94) bringing this case to its present posture.

Standard of Review

In disposing of objections to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report against which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also Sullivan v. Cuyler, 723 F.2d 1077, 1085 (3d Cir. 1983). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 877 (3d Cir. 1987). The district court judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. Id.

Furthermore, granting summary judgment is proper “‘if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Int’l Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chem. Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by establishing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant’s burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts ...


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