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Brennan v. Fisher

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 12, 2017

WESLEY BRENNAN, Plaintiff
v.
KRISTA FISHER, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, Wesley Brennan, a former inmate housed at the State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, ("SCI-Huntingdon"), initiated the above-captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via an amended complaint. (Doc. 27). Brennan's claims relate to his participation in, and purported self-removal from, the sex offender treatment program at SCI-Huntingdon. (Id. at pp. 3-6). Brennan sets forth claims pursuant to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as state law claims under the Pennsylvania Constitution and criminal statutes. (Id. at pp. 2, 6-10). The named Defendants are Krista Fisher and Christine Neri, Psychological Services Specialists at SCI-Huntindgon, and David Morningstar, previously employed as a Unit Manager at SCI-Huntingdon. (Id. at p. 3).

         Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 36). For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         Through summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to materiality, ... [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must offer specific facts contradicting those averred by the movant to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). Therefore, the non-moving party may not oppose summary judgment simply on the basis of the pleadings, or on conclusory statements that a factual issue exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record ... or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). In evaluating whether summary judgment should be granted, "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.1992), cert, denied 507 U.S. 912 (1993).

         However, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). If a party has carried its burden under the summary judgment rule,

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. The 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. When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.

Id. (internal quotations, citations, and alterations omitted).

         III. Allegations of the Amended Complaint

         Brennan alleges that on December 23, 2013, Defendants Fisher and Neri warned him that he would be removed from the sex offender treatment program unless he admitted to having sexual contact with several minor victims. (Doc. 27, p. 3, ¶ 7). Later that evening, Brennan allegedly received a "60 Day Notice" further advising him that he would be removed from the sex offender treatment program unless he demonstrated progress in his treatment. (Doc. 27, p. 3, ¶ 8; Doc. 27, p. 13). The 60 Day Notice provided as follows:

This 60 day notice is to inform you that you are not taking full responsibility for your sex offense. In order to provide you appropriate sex offender treatment, it is important that you admit to and take full responsibility for all of your sex offenses. Accepting responsibility is not repeating what someone said you did, reciting the Affidavit of Probable Cause, or just saying that you accept responsibility. Although you admit to some details of the offense, you still are not admitting to or accepting responsibility for other crucial details of other offenses. When prompted for additional detailed information, you begin to use thinking errors; changing the subject, distracting, etc. In addition, your assignments have been less than adequate, resulting in them having to be reassigned. This lack of responsibility taking and utilization of concepts interferes with your ability to gain and utilize the information and knowledge presented to you. ...

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