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Rivas v. Hunt

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 31, 2015



LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants C.O. Ronald Hunt ("Hunt") and C.O. Keith Manker ("Manker") (collectively "Defendants"). (ECF No. 62.) For the reasons discussed below, the Motion will be granted as to Defendant Manker as to the § 1983 claim only, and denied as to Defendant Hunt.

Plaintiff Luis Antonio Rivas ("Rivas" or "Plaintiff") filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from inmate assault while housed at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh ("SCI-Pittsburgh"). Plaintiff also filed a supplemental state law negligence claim against both Defendants.[1]


The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated, and are taken from the parties' Concise Statements of Undisputed Material Facts and Responses thereto at ECF Nos. 64, 71 and 73.[2]

Luis Antonio Rivas ("Plaintiff" or "Rivas") is an inmate with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections since August 31, 1998. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 1, ECF No. 72 at 6-9.) Plaintiff was transferred to SCI-Pittsburgh from SCI-Houtzdale on February 3, 2011. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 2.) He was placed in the Restrictive Housing Unit ("RHU") on August 24, 2011. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 6.) On September 2, 2011 at approximately 9:30 a.m., Plaintiff was escorted to the RHU exercise yard by Defendants Hunt and Manker. Plaintiff was placed in the RHU exercise yard, and while officers were attempting to remove his handcuffs, inmate Darren Miller ("Miller") attacked Rivas and struck him in the head with a baseball size piece of asphalt. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 9.) Defendants then ordered Miller to drop the piece of asphalt and stop the assault. Miller complied with the order, and the Defendants entered the exercise unit and secured Miller. (ECF No. 72 at 23-24.) Defendant Manker escorted Plaintiff to the unit triage to receive medical treatment for his injuries. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 13.)

At the time of the attack, Manker was assigned as a Utility Officer; he was not a member of the RHU staff and did not work on the pod. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 3.) Instead, as a Utility Officer, Manker was required to perform various functions throughout the facility on any given shift, but his main function was as an escort officer. (ECF No. 65-3 at ¶ 4.)

Conversely, Hunt had been a member of the RHU staff for the past two (2) years and nine (9) months before the attack. (ECF No. 72 at 41.)

Finally, it is undisputed that Plaintiff did not inform Defendants that he was having problems with Inmate Miller, and Plaintiff did not tell the Defendants not to place him in the same exercise yard with Miller. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 35.) It is also undisputed that Plaintiff did not have a separation order from Miller. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶ 36.) Plaintiff did not want to press charges against Miller for the assault. (ECF Nos. 64 & 71 at ¶¶ 33-34.)


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).


Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act ...

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