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Moore v. Johnson

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

February 19, 2015

KENNETH MOORE, JR., Plaintiff,


LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Magistrate Judge.


For the following reasons, it is respectfully recommended that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 30) be granted.


Plaintiff Kenneth Moore, Jr. is an inmate who is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Greene ("SCI-Greene"). However, this action stems from events that occurred while Plaintiff was an inmate at the State Correctional Institution Pine Grove ("SCI-Pine Grove"). His Complaint alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, as well as his right to Equal Protection and rights under the Americans with Disabilities ("ADA") Act. Defendants are J. Barry Johnson, Superintendent at SCI-Pine Grove; Shirley, Major at SCI-Pine Grove; B. O'Donnell, Intelligence Captain at SCI-Pine Grove; Marusa, Psychology Staff Member at SCI-Pine Grove; and John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Collectively, Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, to which Plaintiff has filed a Brief in Opposition. The Motion is now ripe for review.

A. Factual History

In February 2010, Plaintiff was taken from the general population and placed in solitary confinement, or more commonly referred to as the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"). (ECF No. 1, Compl. at ¶ 12.) Plaintiff contends that he was moved into the RHU due to an investigation into the murder of an inmate in which he was alleged to have been involved. Id. However, Defendants have informed the Court that the murder occurred on February 28, 2010, while Plaintiff was already in the RHU.[1]

Plaintiff contends that from March 1, 2010 until late September 2011, he was placed on strict restrictions at the direction of Defendants Johnson, Shirley, O'Donnell, and Wetzel. Id. at ¶ 13. These restrictions allegedly included the denial of writing utensils, the right to file and exhaust grievances, and the right to correspond with his attorney, family and friends. Id. He also alleges that his outgoing and incoming mail was "continuously confiscated". Id.

Plaintiff claims that these restrictions hindered his ability to aid his attorney who was representing him in his PCRA proceedings, [2] and thus hindered his attorney's ability to effectively represent him in those proceedings. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff claims that he verbally complained and filed numerous grievances and complaints about these restrictions, but the restrictions approved by Defendants Johnson, Shirley, O'Donnell and Wetzel persisted. Id. at ¶ 15.

Plaintiff next claims that he was denied mental health treatment by his assigned Psychology staff member, Defendant Marusa, who allegedly refused to speak to Plaintiff during her weekly visits. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff contends that DOC policy mandates that all RHU inmates be seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist for a mental health assessment every thirty days and be given an annual psychological or psychiatric examination if they are continuously confined in the RHU for a period of one year. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17. According to Plaintiff, he never received any psychological or psychiatric treatment while in the RHU. Id. at ¶ 20. He states that he attempted to file a grievance regarding the denial of mental health treatment, but he could not exhaust his administrative remedies because prison officials intercepted his grievances. Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.

B. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate if, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, the record indicates 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). Summary judgment may be granted against a party who fails to adduce facts sufficient to establish the existence of any element to that party's case and for which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying evidence or the lack thereof that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. National State Bank v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 979 F.2d 1579, 1582 (3d Cir. 1992). Once that burden has been met, the non-moving party must set forth "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial" or the factual record will be taken as presented by the moving party and judgment will be entered as a matter of law. Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). An issue is genuine only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). The inquiry, then, involves determining "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Cir. 1990) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52). If a court, having reviewed the evidence with this standard in mind, concludes that "the evidence is merely colorable... or is not significantly probative, " then summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50. Finally, while any evidence used to support a motion for summary judgment must be admissible, it is not necessary for it to be in admissible form. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; J.F. Feeser, Inc., v. Serv-A-Portion, Inc., 909 F.2d 1524, 1542 (3d Cir. 1990).

C. Discussion

1. Statute of ...

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