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Hakala v. Park

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 6, 2015

GARY HAKALA Plaintiff,
v.
DR. MIN PARK, M.D., DR. PHILLIP BALK, M.D., B. BILOHLAVEK, R.N., and DARLA COWDEN, M.P.A. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION ECF NO. 61.

LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant B. Bilohlavek, R.N. (ECF No. 61.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny the Motion.

FACTS

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated and are taken from the parties' Statement of Material Facts and Response thereto at ECF Nos. 63 & 67.[1] Plaintiff Gary Hakala ("Plaintiff") is an inmate currently incarcerated within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") at the State Correctional Institution ("SCI") at Albion. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 1.) The moving Defendant is Byron Bilohlavek ("Defendant" or "Bilohlavek"), a registered nurse at SCI-Fayette. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 2.) The above captioned case arises from Plaintiff's incarceration at SCI-Fayette in 2009 and 2010. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 3.)

Plaintiff claims that Bilohlavek and the three (3) other named Defendants refused to treat Plaintiff for lung cancer in 2009 and 2010 while incarcerated at SCI-Fayette. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff alleges that he complained about breathing problems, and sought, but was denied, medical treatment at an outside hospital. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 5.) Plaintiff further alleges that in September 2010, Defendants falsified his medical records indicating that he had no issues concerning his lungs and cleared him for release. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 6; ECF No. 4 at 2, ¶ IV.C.) Plaintiff claims that just after his release, he was examined by an outside physician and told there was a mass on his lung. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 7.) In October 2010, a CT scan and biopsy confirmed he had lung cancer. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 8.) Plaintiff claims that an outside physician opined that the mass had to have been known by SCI-Fayette medical staff upon review of xrays. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 9.) Plaintiff had a portion of his lung surgically removed. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 10.)

It is undisputed that Plaintiff failed to utilize the grievance procedure at SCI-Fayette. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶¶ 13-14.) Plaintiff explained that he failed to use the grievance procedure because he was not aware that he had lung cancer until after he was paroled from SCI-Fayette. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 15.)

On July 7, 2011, Plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI-Albion due to a parole violation. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 11.) On October 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed the above-captioned case, pro se, while an inmate at SCI-Albion. (ECF Nos. 63 & 67 at ¶ 12.) On November 30, 2012, this Court entered an Order granting Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel. On February 27, 2013, Attorney Brian C. Bevan ("Bevan") accepted the request to represent Plaintiff. (ECF No. 12.) On August 5, 2014, Attorney Bevan filed a Motion to Withdraw as Attorney (ECF No. 71), which was granted by this Court on August 7, 2014 (ECF No. 75).

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if, drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, "the movant shows 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 essential 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, 322 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying evidence, or the lack thereof, which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Nat'l State Bank v. Fed. Reserve Bank of New York, 979 F.2d 1579, 1581-82 (3d Cir. 1992) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-25). Once that burden has been met, the nonmoving party may not rest on the allegations in the complaint, but must "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] 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.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) (1963)). See also Orsatti v. New Jersey State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 484 (3d Cir. 1995) ("plaintiff cannot resist a properly supported motion for summary judgment merely by restating the allegations of his complaint, but must point to concrete evidence in the record that supports each and every essential element of his case.") (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).

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, 248 (1986). 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)(2); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; J.F. Feeser, Inc. v. Serv-A-Portion, Inc., 909 F.2d 1524, 1542 (3d Cir. 1990).

ANALYSIS

Defendant Bilohlavek's only argument in support of his Motion for Summary Judgment is that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies while at SCI-Fayette. It is undisputed that Plaintiff did not avail himself of the Inmate Grievance System.

Through the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), Congress amended 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) to prohibit prisoners from bringing an action with respect to prison conditions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or any other federal law, until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted. Specifically, the act provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1979 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (42 U.S.C. § 1983), or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility ...

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