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Smith v. Cserny

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 18, 2014



WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, District Judge.

I. Introduction

We are considering a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants on June 5, 2014. This matter relates to injuries sustained by Plaintiff Timothy Smith while in the custody of Loysville Youth Development Center (Loysville). Plaintiff Timothy Smith filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims that he was injured in violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment. Timothy Smith's mother, Tanya Smith, filed her own claim pursuant to § 1983. She claims that Timothy's injuries violated her Fourteenth Amendment due process rights because she was deprived the society and companionship of her son. For the reasons below, we will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

II. Background

On December 1, 2008, Timothy Smith was in placement at Loysville Youth Development Center (Loysville). (Doc. 23 at 1; Doc. 33 at 1). He was sixteen years old. (Id.). Henry Cserny and Theodore Quaker were employed at Loysville. (Doc. 23-2 at 48; Doc. 23 at 2). When Cserny arrived at work on December 1, 2008, he learned that the previous evening Timothy Smith attempted to spit on a Loysville staff member. (Doc. 23-2 at 47; Doc. 33 at 2). Cserny awoke Smith to confront him about the spitting incident. (Doc. 23-2 at 48; Doc. 33 at 3). From here, the facts alleged by the parties diverge.

Defendants claim that Cserny asked Timothy Smith about his behavior and Smith became "verbally aggressive" and began to yell profanities. (Doc. 23 at 3). Cserny observed that Smith's hands were balled into fists, he was breathing hard, and his body was shaking. (Id. at 4). Cserny felt threatened and applied an "extended arm assist." (Id.). Smith began to resist and freed one of his arms. (Id. at 5). Theodore Quaker observed the confrontation and responded to assisted Cserny. (Id.). While Smith resisted, Quaker lost his balance and all three fell on the floor. (Id.). Smith's left arm was fractured above the elbow in the process. (Id. at 7).

Plaintiffs claim that Smith was awakened by Cserny yelling, "get out of bed, pussy." (Doc. 33 at 3; Doc. 33-2 at 4). Cserny continued to yell at Smith as he dressed and head-butted him above his right eye. (Id.). Cserny grabbed Smith by the collar, shook him, and shoved against a wall. (Id.). Cserny ordered Smith to do push-ups, and Smith refused. (Id.). Cserny told Smith, "if you don't do it, I am going to put your head through that fucking door." (Id.). When Smith refused, Cserny grabbed him by the head and shoulder in order to force Smith to the ground. (Doc. 33-2 at 5). Quaker responded and assisted Cserny and all three fell to the ground, breaking Smith's arm. (Id.). While Smith was crying in pain, Cserny told Smith, "you try shit like this again, and I will break your legs." (Id.).

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that both Plaintiffs have failed to establish a claim. (Doc. 22). Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition. (Doc. 32, 33). The Plaintiffs include in their brief a motion to strike Defendants' summary judgment motion.

III. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

We will examine the motion for summary judgment under the well-established standard. Lawrence v. City of Phila. , 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d Cir. 2008) ("Summary judgment is only appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact."). We "must view all evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party" and we will only grant the motion "if no reasonable juror could find for the non-movant." Id . "Material facts are those that could affect the outcome' of the proceeding, and a dispute about a material fact is genuine if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Roth v. Norfalco , 651 F.3d 367, 373 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Lamont v. New Jersey , 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011)). Summary judgment will be granted "against a party who fails to make a 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. 317, 322 (1986).

B. Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike is Denied

Plaintiffs used videotape to record the depositions of the Defendants. (Doc. 34 at 4). Defendants chose to independently document the depositions stenographically. (Id.). Plaintiffs objected to the use of "alternative means depositions" (stenographic transcripts) for dispositive motions and impeachment. (Doc. 32 at 1). Plaintiffs renew that objection in their opposition brief and move to strike the motion for summary judgment because it cites to Defendants' stenographic transcripts. (Id.). Defendants argue there is no basis to strike the motion for summary judgment. We agree. Plaintiffs point to no authority, binding or persuasive, that supports their motion to strike.[1] Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(3) provides that "[a]ny party may arrange to transcribe a deposition" and "any party may designate ...

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