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Johnson v. Beard

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

September 25, 2014

TIMOTHY R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff
v.
JEFFREY BEARD, ET AL., Defendants

MEMORANDUM

RICHARD P. CONABOY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Background

Timothy R. Johnson initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 during his prior confinement at the State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (SCI-Huntingdon).[1] An Amended Complaint was filed by Johnson on February 22, 2010. See Doc. 46. SCI-Huntingdon inmate Daniel Manchas, III was subsequently granted leave to be joined as a Plaintiff in this matter.

By Memorandum and Order dated March 15, 2011, this Court partially granted a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint filed by the Commonwealth Defendants. See Doc. 93. Defendant Shoaf’s motions to dismiss the claims of the respective Plaintiffs were granted by Memorandums and Orders dated March 22, 2011 and August 23, 2011. Plaintiff Johnson’s surviving claims were dismissed for failure to prosecute by Order dated March 8, 2012.

By Memorandum and Order dated November 26, 2013, this Court granted Manchas’ request to voluntarily dismiss his claims against Remaining Defendants Garman and Glorioso, as well as his conditions of confinement claims with the exception of two allegations. In addition, Remaining Defendants’ motion seeking entry of summary judgment was partially granted and Manchas’ damage claims brought against Remaining Defendants in their official capacities were dismissed.[2]

As a result of the above rulings, the three (3) Remaining Defendants are the following SCI-Huntingdon employees:

Superintendent Lawler; Safety Manager B. M. Ewell; and Utilities Manager Curtis Williams. Remaining Plaintiff Manchas’ two surviving allegations are: 1) he was exposed to unconstitutional powerhouse emissions; and (2) there were leaks in the ceiling and floors of his cell which caused mold and went uncorrected.

Presently pending is Remaining Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. See Doc. 204. The opposed motion is ripe for consideration.

Discussion

Remaining Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the grounds: (1) Manchas failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies; (2) a viable conditions of confinement claim has not been asserted; and (3) Remaining Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper 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 a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); See also Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). A factual dispute is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is “genuine” only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248. The court must resolve all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the non-moving party. Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232; see also Reeder v. Sybron Transition Corp., 142 F.R.D. 607, 609 (M.D. Pa. 1992). Unsubstantiated arguments made in briefs are not considered evidence of asserted facts. Versarge v. Township of Clinton, 984 F.2d 1359, 1370 (3d Cir. 1993).

Once the moving party has shown that there is an absence of evidence to support the claims of the non-moving party, the non-moving party may not simply sit back and rest on the allegations in its complaint. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Instead, it must “go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. (internal quotations omitted); see also Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (citations omitted). Summary judgment should be granted where a party “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 at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. “‘Such affirmative evidence – regardless of whether it is direct or circumstantial ...


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