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Smith v. Warden Maiorana

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 27, 2015



Maureen P. Kelly Chief Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff, Stephen Randall Smith (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. Plaintiff has brought this civil rights suit pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) (“Bivens”), and the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671, et seq. (“FTCA”), alleging that he suffered severe injuries when he was attacked by another inmate while he was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania (“FCI Loretto”), and that the staff at SCI Loretto subsequently subjected him to deliberately indifferent and/or negligent medical care. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants are liable to him for failing to supervise and protect him from the other inmate.

Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (“the Motion”), ECF No. 56, submitted on behalf of Defendants Warden Maiorana, Dr. Farkas (incorrectly identified as “Dr. Farkus”), Steven Burk (incorrectly identified as “Mr. Burke”), Nicolas Rodriguez-Miralles (incorrectly identified as “Mr. Rodriguis”), and the United States of America.[1] For the reasons that follow, the Motion, which the Court has treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be granted.


Plaintiff initiated this action on March 29, 2013, by filing a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff’s request was granted on May 16, 2013, and the Complaint was filed on that same date. ECF Nos. 5, 6. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on January 15, 2014, which remains the operative complaint. ECF No. 21.

On September 16, 2014, Defendants filed the instant Motion and a brief in support. ECF Nos. 56, 58. This Court issued an Order on September 19, 2014, indicating that the Motion would be treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment and directing Plaintiff to file a response to the Motion, a concise counter-statement of facts and any appendix by October 20, 2014. ECF No. 59. Plaintiff subsequently requested and was granted an extension of time to respond and on January 9, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a Response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 68, and a Formal Response to Defendants Brief in Pursuit of Summary Judgment. ECF No. 69. Accordingly, the Motion is now ripe for review.


A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, or if the plaintiff lacks standing to bring his claim. Motions brought under Rule 12(b)(1) may present either a facial or factual challenge to the court’s subject matter jurisdiction. In reviewing a facial challenge under Rule 12(b)(1), the standards relevant to Rule 12(b)(6) apply and require the court to accept all factual allegations in the Complaint as true, and to consider only the complaint and documents referenced in or attached to the complaint. See Gould Elec., Inc. v. U.S., 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000). However, where, as here, a factual challenge to the court's subject matter jurisdiction is made, the Court is not confined to the allegations of the complaint, and the presumption of truthfulness does not attach to the allegations in the Complaint. See Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). Instead, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings, including affidavits, depositions and testimony, to resolve any factual issues bearing on jurisdiction. See Gotha v. U.S., 115 F.3d 176, 179 (3d Cir.1997). Once the court's subject matter jurisdiction over a complaint is challenged, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d at 891.

B. Summary Judgment

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that: “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if 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). An issue of material fact is in genuine dispute if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). See Doe v. Abington Friends Sch., 480 F.3d 252, 256 (3d Cir. 2007) (“[a] genuine issue is present when a reasonable trier of fact, viewing all of the record evidence, could rationally find in favor of the non-moving party in light of his burden of proof”). Thus, summary judgment is warranted where, “after adequate time for discovery and upon motion . . . a party . . . fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Marten v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 295 (3d Cir. 2007), quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). See Conoshenti v. Pub. Serv. Elec. & Gas Co., 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004). “W]hen the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007), quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). In deciding a summary judgment motion, a court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must draw all reasonable inferences, and resolve all doubts in favor of the nonmoving party. Matreale v. N.J. Dep’t of Military & Veterans Affairs, 487 F.3d 150, 152 (3d Cir. 2007); Woodside v. Sch. Dist. of Phila. Bd. of Educ., 248 F.3d 129, 130 (3d Cir. 2001).


Defendants have set forth a number of arguments in their Motion as to why the claims brought against them should be dismissed. Although all of their arguments appear to have merit, the Court need only address one, i.e., whether Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The issue is not only ...

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