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Davis v. Harlow

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 26, 2014

ANGELO LENELL DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL HARLOW, et al., Defendants.

ECF No. 97.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Chief Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendants on November 15, 2013.[1] (ECF No. 97.) In accordance with this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order dated March 22, 2013 (ECF No. 72), the only claims remaining in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 46) are for five alleged instances of retaliation. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Angelo Lenell Davis ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner who alleges that he was mistreated while he was incarcerated at SCI-Greene. The following is a brief summary of facts pertinent to the five remaining claims of retaliation:

A. Plaintiff's Classification Level and Cell Move History

Plaintiff was found guilty of aggravated assault and sentenced to 40 to 120 months incarceration, with a maximum sentence date of March 16, 2016. (Def's Exh. 1, Sentencing Documents, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.1-8.) Plaintiff arrived at SCI-Greene on May 28, 2008. (Def's Exh. 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12.) From June 2008 until December 21, 2008, Plaintiff was housed on SCI-Greene's J Unit, where Susan Cowan was Unit Manager and Donna Nicholas was a J Unit Counselor. (Def's Ex. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 2.) J Unit was a self-contained, low security housing unit outside the facility perimeter where inmates had the opportunity to work and engage in other activities under lesser levels of supervision. Id . J Unit is no longer in operation and has been converted to a Community Corrections Center. Id.

Plaintiff was returned to the main prison due to a death in his family in late December 2008. Id. at ¶ 3. According to the DOC, whenever an inmate experiences any type of catastrophic event, he is moved and held inside the institution as a matter of standard policy, in light of security and safety concerns. Id . At that point, Plaintiff was assigned to C Block (a level 3 security housing unit) where he remained until September 23, 2010. (Def.'s Exh. 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12); (Def.'s Exh. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 4.) Defendant Cowan was moved to C Block as well, and David Swartz was the C Block Counselor. (Def.'s Exh. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 4.)

Plaintiff was moved to K Unit on September 23, 2010, and remained there until May 9, 2011. (Def's Exh 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12.) His Unit Manager on K was Macknair and his Counselor was Staley. (Def's Exh. 13, Grievance 339321, ECF No. 100-2 at pp.8-20); (Def's Exh. 16, Misconduct B325022, ECF No. 100-2 at pp.35-47.) Plaintiff was in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") from May 9, 2011, until July 11, 2011, and then assigned to E Block from July 11, 2011, until August 16, 2011. (Def's Exh. 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12.) On August 16, 2011, Plaintiff moved to B Block where he remained until June 1, 2012. Id . His Unit Manager on B Block was Guyton and his Counselor was Burris. (Def's Exh. 23, Guyton Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.5-8, ¶¶ 1-5.)

Plaintiff was classified as a Custody Level 2 inmate from the time of his arrival at SCI-Greene in May 2008, until May 9, 2011, when he received a misconduct and was sent to the RHU. (Def's Exh. 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12.) Upon return to general population (E and B Blocks) in July 2011, he was a Custody Level 3 inmate, and then reclassified as a Custody Level 2 inmate in early 2012. (Def's Exh. 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12); (Def's Exh. 25, Rogers Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.14-16, ¶4); (Def's Exh. 23, Guyton Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.5-8, ¶3.)

B. Plaintiff's Parole Staffing - January 28, 2010

Plaintiff had a staffing for parole on January 28, 2010. (Def's Exh. 8, Redacted Vote Sheets for 1/28/10 and 10/6/11 Staffings, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.48-51.) As part of his Unit Team at that time, Unit Manager Cowan and Counselor Swartz participated in the January 28, 2010 parole staffing. (Def's Exh. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 5.) According to Cowan, when conducting a parole staffing, she, as Unit Manager, gathers the Unit Team (including herself and Counselor Swartz, and a Block Officer who is familiar with the inmate's behavior), and they consider all relevant information about the inmate's misconduct and employment history, his housing reports, his program completion and overall behavior. Id. at ¶ 6. The inmate is also present; he participates in the staffing and is interviewed. Id . Key to this process is the inmate's ability to discuss his crime and admit to what happened. Id . According to Cowan and Guyton, the Unit Team does not consider whether or not an inmate has filed grievances or complained about staff. (Def's Exh. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 7); (Def's Exh. 23, Guyton Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.5-8, ¶ 6.)

Cowan recalls Plaintiff's January 28, 2010 staffing. (Def's Exh. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 8.) She states that Plaintiff was vehement about re-living or re-trying his criminal trial and would not accept any responsibility for what happened. Id . There was a unanimous vote not to support Plaintiff for parole at that time, mainly because of his own refusal to accept responsibility for his crime. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff subsequently had the opportunity to interview with the Parole officials who make the ultimate determination, and the record indicates that his refusal to admit or accept responsibility for his crime was one of the factors for the Parole Board's denial of parole on May 24, 2010. (Def's Exh. 7, Parole Board Decisions - 4/24/09, 5/24/10, 1/27/12, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.41-47); (Def's Exh. 24, Cowan Declaration, ECF No. 100-3 at pp.9-13, ¶ 9.)

C. Plaintiff's Misconducts - Early 2011

As previously stated, Plaintiff was moved to K Unit on September 23, 2010. (Def's Exh. 2, Cell Move History, ECF No. 100-1 at pp.9-12.) Plaintiff was one of 58 inmates moved from C to K Unit to make room for incoming inmates. (Def's Exh. 13, Grievance 339321, ECF No. 100-2 at pp.8-20.) In early 2011, Plaintiff was issued several misconducts for refusing to obey orders (he had failed to stand for count despite receiving prior warnings). (Def's Exh. 14, Misconduct A213185-2/25/11, ECF No. 100-2 at pp.21-24); (Def's Exh. 15, Misconduct A213170-4/20/11, ECF No. 100-2 at pp.25-34.) On May 6, 2011, Plaintiff wrote a request slip to his counselor on K Unit (Staley) stating that he should be moved before there is bloodshed. (Def's Exh. 16, Misconduct B325022-5/6/11, ECF No. 100-2 at pp.35-47.) This incident was investigated by the Security Office and a misconduct was issued to Plaintiff by Baker for threatening another person. Id . Plaintiff was found guilty at the misconduct hearing and ...


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