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Mack v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 27, 2015

DAVID A. MACK, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN E. WETZEL, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.

I. Introduction

David Mack, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, was a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution in Frackville (SCI-Frackville), Pennsylvania, when he brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his rights under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Act (Act), 35 PA. CONS. STAT. § 637.1-637.11.[1]

Presently before the court is the Department of Corrections (DOC) defendants' motion for summary judgment based on Mr. Mack's alleged failure to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to initiating this action. (Doc. 36.) Mr. Mack has filed a brief in opposition to defendants' motion. (Doc. 61.) For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted and the case dismissed without prejudice.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper where "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). The court must determine "whether the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and whether the moving party is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law." MacFarlan v. Ivy Hill SNF, LLC, 675 F.3d 266, 271 (3d Cir. 2012)(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must view all facts and draw all reasonable inferences "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Blunt v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 265 (3d Cir. 2014)(internal quotation marks omitted).

"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). An issue is "genuine" if supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the non-moving party's favor. Id . at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. A material fact is any fact that might affect the outcome of a suit under the governing substantive law. Gonzalez v. Sec'y of Dept. of Homeland Sec., 678 F.3d 254, 261 (3d Cir. 2012).

"[W]here a non-moving party fails sufficiently to establish the existence of an essential element of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, there is not a genuine dispute with respect to a material fact." Blunt, 767 F.3d at 265. Although the court must give the non-moving party the benefit of reasonable inferences, "an inference based upon speculation or conjecture does not create a material factual dispute sufficient to defeat summary judgment." Halsey v. Pfeiffer, 750 F.3d 273, 287 (3d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). The non-moving party "cannot establish a genuine dispute as to a material fact by pointing to unsupported allegations in the pleadings." Doe v. Luzerne Cnty., 660 F.3d 169, 175 (3d Cir. 2011).

"In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'" Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2510).

III. Background

A. Procedural History

At all times relevant to this action, Mr. Mack was housed at SCI-Frackville. He initiated this action on November 17, 2013, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1-2, Compl.) As SCI-Frackville is within the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the matter was transferred to this court on December 2, 2013. (Doc. 4, Transfer Order.)

On December 11, 2013, Mr. Mack sought leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 7, Mot. to Am.) On December 20, 2013, this court granted Mr. Mack's motion. (Doc. 8, Order.) He filed his Amended Complaint on January 14, 2014. (Doc. 9, Am. Compl.) On March 28, 2014, the court directed service of the Amended Complaint on the named defendants. (Doc. 13, Service Order.)

On July 8, 2014, the DOC defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, statement of material facts, exhibits and a supporting brief. (Docs. 36-39.) On November 10, 2014, Mr. Mack filed a brief in opposition to the DOC defendants' ...


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