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Porter v. Hogue

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 18, 2015

ROGER L. PORTER, Plaintiff,


LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 72) filed by the Defendants; employees of Armstrong County: Warden David C. Hogue, Deputy Warden Matt A. Roofner, Lt. Schilling, Mr. Campbell, and President of Armstrong County Prison Board Mr. Fink. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part. The motion will be granted to the extent that Defendants Campbell and Roofner will be dismissed for lack of personal involvement. The motion will be denied in all other respects because the Court finds that disputes of material fact exist which must be resolved by a jury.

I. Factual Background

Roger Porter ("Plaintiff") was transferred to the Armstrong County Jail from the Indiana County Jail on or about January 13, 2009. (Defs.' Ex. 1, ECF No. 73-1 at p.5, Indiana County Jail Act-84 Transfer Health Information.)[1]

On or about February 23, 2010, Plaintiff requested money from his account for an eye examination that had previously been scheduled before he was transferred. (Pl.'s Ex. A, Cash Slip.) However, Defendant Campbell denied this request without explanation on February 26, 2010. Id.

On February 28, 2010, Plaintiff requested information from Defendant Roofner on why he was refused access to the money to carry out his scheduled appointment for his "bad" eyesight, and this request was denied by Warden Hogue with an explanation that Plaintiff could get an eye examination after he got out of the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), which he was in for receiving a misconduct. (Pl.'s Ex. B, Inmate Request Form.)

On March 7, 2010, Defendant Hogue also denied Plaintiff's request for an eye examination despite Plaintiff stating that his contacts were "bothering" him and he did not have glasses to replace them. (Pl.'s Ex. C, Inmate Request Form.)

On March 18, 2010, Plaintiff filed another request to Defendant Hogue stating that he was "basically blind, " but this too was denied for the stated reason that reading glasses were available for purchase. Id . Instead of granting Plaintiff's request, Defendant Hogue asked where Plaintiff got contraband drugs, which had led to him receiving the aforementioned misconduct. Id.

Plaintiff was denied two more requests on March 22 and March 24 with Defendant Hogue stating that Plaintiff would receive treatment once his disciplinary time lapsed. (Pl.'s Ex. D, Inmate Request Form.)

On March 27, 2010, Plaintiff filed an Inmate Complaint Form, which was denied on March 29, 2010. (Pl.'s Ex. E, Inmate Complaint Form.) Plaintiff filed another Inmate Complaint Form on April 15, 2010, stating that his need for a medical appointment was "very urgent" and that the reading glasses available in the prison were insufficient for his eyesight needs. (Pl.'s Ex. F, Inmate Complaint Form.) This request was denied by Warden Hogue on April 16, 2010 for the stated reason that Plaintiff would only be allowed to visit an eye doctor after he was "released from jail." Id . Another Complaint Form was filed on April 26, 2010, but was denied on May 3, 2010 for the stated reason that "glasses are not a serious medical need." (Pl.'s Ex. G, Inmate Complaint Form.)

Around 1:10 a.m. on May 4, 2010, Plaintiff slipped and fell on the wet floor of his cell. (Pl.'s Ex. H, Inmate Complaint Form.) Plaintiff stated in an Inmate Complaint Form that he slipped because he could not see properly without glasses or contacts. Id . This fall resulted in a deep gash approximately one and a half inches long that was bleeding profusely, along with neck injuries and light headedness. Id . Plaintiff called for help to Defendant Schilling, but Defendant Schilling only placed gauze pads on Plaintiff's head. Id . Plaintiff quickly bled through these and asked for further assistance, but Defendant Schilling refused. Id . Plaintiff had to wait until 2:23 p.m. the following day before he received any medical assistance. (Pl.'s Ex. H, Hospital Records.) He was transported to the local emergency room and received two staples to close his wound. Id . Plaintiff filed an Inmate Complaint Form on May 6, 2010, but the record indicates that this form was not responded to. (Pl.'s Ex. H, Inmate Complaint Form.)

After this incident, Defendant Hogue again denied Plaintiff's requests for eye care on June 15, 2010 and July 19, 2010. (Pl.'s Ex. L, Inmate Request Form.) Additionally, Plaintiff's Inmate Complaint Forms from June 28, 2010 and July 6, 2010 were denied by Defendant Hogue on July 9, 2010 and July 15, 2010, respectively. (Pl.'s Ex. M-N.) Plaintiff's Inmate Complaint Form from June 28, 2010 was denied for the stated reason that "eye glasses are not serious medical needs, " and Plaintiff's Inmate Complaint Form from July 6, 2010 informed Plaintiff that he "needed to put a slip in to see the doctor, " and again that "eyeglasses are not serious medical needs." Id . Defendant Fink ultimately denied Plaintiff's appeals. (Pl.'s Ex. I-J.)

II. Summary Judgment 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.l 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, supra).

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).

III. Discussion

A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Defendants first defend against Plaintiff's complaint on the basis that Plaintiff did not sufficiently exhaust his administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ...

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