United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
PIERRE S. MacKEY, Plaintiff,
ADAM GOOD, Defendant.
JOHN E. JONES, III, District Judge.
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:
On March 10, 2014, Plaintiff, Pierre Mackey, an inmate confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, ("USP-Lewisburg"), initiated this Bivens  action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 1). The named Defendant is Adam Good, a correctional officer at USP-Lewisburg. ( Id. at p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that on November 18, 2013, he was handing trash to Defendant through the food tray slot of his cell when Defendant roughly pressed the tray slot against his wrist causing pain. ( Id. at pp. 2-3). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant then made a derogatory, racist remark to him. ( Id. at p. 3). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant denied him access to medical care when he requested treatment for his wrist. ( Id. ).
On July 7, 2014, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Doc. 10). Subsequently, on July 21, 2014, Defendant filed a statement of material facts, along with a supporting brief and exhibits. (Docs. 11, 12).
By Order dated September 5, 2014, Plaintiff was directed to file a brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Doc. 13). The Order also warned Plaintiff that "failure to file his opposition within the required time will result in the motion being deemed unopposed and addressed on the merits." (Doc. 13, p. 2). Plaintiff failed to file a brief in opposition. Accordingly, the motion will be deemed ripe for disposition and, for the reasons set forth below, will be granted.
I. STANDARDS OF REVIEW
A. Bivens Standard
Plaintiff's claims are filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, in accordance with Bivens, 403 U.S. 388. Under Bivens, the District Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 to entertain an action brought to redress alleged federal constitutional or statutory violations by a federal actor. Bivens, 403 U.S. 388. Pursuant to Bivens, "a citizen suffering a compensable injury to a constitutionally protected interest could invoke the general federal-question jurisdiction of the district courts to obtain an award of monetary damages against the responsible federal official." Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 504 (1978). A Bivens -style civil rights claim is the federal equivalent of an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the same legal principles have been held to apply. See Paton v. LaPrade, 524 F.2d 862, 871 (3d Cir. 1975); Veteto v. Miller, 829 F.Supp. 1486, 1492 (M.D. Pa. 1992); Young v. Keohane, 809 F.Supp. 1185, 1200 n.16 (M.D. Pa. 1992). In order to state an actionable Bivens claim, a plaintiff must allege that a person has deprived him of a federal right, and that the person who caused the deprivation acted under color of federal law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Young, 809 F.Supp. at 1199.
B. Motion to Dismiss
In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, a court must accept the veracity of plaintiff's allegations. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). A court should "not inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims" and must accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them. Indep. Enterprises, Inc. v. Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Auth., 103 F.3d 1165, 1168 (3d Cir. 1997); Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 66 (3d Cir. 1996). "[A] complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The test is whether, under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief. Holder v. City of Allentown, 987 F.2d 188, 194 (3d Cir. 1993). "The burden is on the moving party to show that there is no actionable claim." Javorski v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53480, *19 (M.D. Pa. 2006) (Conaboy, J.).
In this case, Defendant has framed his motion as one seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. See (Doc. 10). When a party moves to dismiss, but where "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(d). Typically, when a court converts a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, notice must be given to all parties of the court's intent to do so. Id.; Garcia v. Newtown Twp., 2010 WL 785808, at *3 (E.D. Pa. 2010). However, if a motion to dismiss has been filed with an alternative request for summary judgment, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the alternative filing is sufficient to "place the parties on notice that summary judgment might be entered." Latham v. United States, 306 Fed.Appx. 716, 718 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Hilfirty v. Shipman, 91 F.3d 573, 578-79 (3d Cir. 1996)). Accordingly, with respect to issues like exhaustion of administrative remedies where Defendant relies upon matters outside the pleadings, this Court will treat Defendant's motion as one for summary judgment.
C. Motion for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show 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); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). "[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). A disputed fact is "material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id.; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v. Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).
The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. FED. R. CIV. P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (stating that the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"). The party opposing the motion must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case, which it bears the burden of proving at trial, because "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; see also Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992). The nonmoving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Service, 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). "Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 912 (1993).
II. STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: "If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may... consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)(2). Similarly, Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 56.1 states: "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement required to be served by the opposing party." M.D. Pa. L.R. 56.1.
Plaintiff has failed to file a brief in opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment or a responsive statement of facts; therefore, Defendant's statement of facts will be deemed admitted. The undisputed facts, taken from Defendant's statement of material facts, (Doc. 12), and declarations and exhibits submitted therewith, are as follows.
On May 3, 2000, Plaintiff was sentenced by the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to a 480 term of imprisonment for drug and firearms offenses. (Doc. 11, Ex. 1, Declaration of Michael S. Romano, ¶ 2; Doc. 11, Attach. 1, Public Information for Plaintiff).
The incident at issue occurred on November 18, 2013 at USP-Lewisburg. (Doc. 12, Statement of Material Facts, ("SOF"), ¶ 12).
Defendant worked on Plaintiff's housing unit as the G Block, number two recreation officer. (SOF ¶ 12). Defendant's primary duties included escorting inmates from their cells to the recreation area and back. (SOF ¶ 13). Defendant occasionally assisted with passing out and collecting food trays to the inmates on G Block. (SOF ¶ 15).
Defendant denies slamming Plaintiff's hand in the food slot when collecting food trays on November 18, 2013, or any other day. (SOF ¶ 16).
Defendant also denies refusing Plaintiff access to medical care. (SOF ¶ 18).
A member of the medical staff is on the G Block housing unit every day and inmates have the opportunity to seek ...