United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY, United States District Judge
pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 was filed by Lawrence Marvin Wilson, an inmate
presently confined at the Forest State Correctional
Institution, Marienville, Pennsylvania (SCI-Forest).
Remaining Defendants are the following officials at
Plaintiff's prior place of confinement, the State
Correctional Institution, Coal Township, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Coal Twp.): Superintendent Varano; Health Care
Administrator Kathryn McCarty; Restricted Housing Unit (RHU)
Lieutenants Norman Folk and George Burns (collectively
referred to as the "Corrections Defendants").
Memorandum and Order dated February 19, 2013, a motion to
dismiss the Complaint filed by Defendant Jennifer Daya, P.A.
was granted. See Doc. 53. A September 9, 2013
Memorandum and Order partially granted Corrections
Defendants' motion to dismiss. See Doc. 61. The
claims against Defendants Secretary Wetzel, Regional
Superintendent Klopotoski, Chief Grievance Officer Varner;
Deputy Superintendents Ellett and Miller; ex-Deputy
Superintendent McMillan, Grievance Coordinator Discandi, Unit
Manager Major Miller, Shift Commander Captain Madden and
Correctional Officer T. Bendas were dismissed on the basis of
non-personal involvement. Dismissal was also granted with
respect to any claims: (1) under either the Eighth or
Fourteenth Amendment regarding Plaintiff's temporary,
disciplinary placement on a food loaf diet; (3) for monetary
damages under RLUIPA; and (3) concerning the alleged failure
of Varano and McCarty to preserve videotape.
result, the following claims survive: (1) Defendants v Folk
and Burns violated the First Amendment by refusing
Plaintiff's request to be provided with a Kosher food
bag; (2) Health Care Administrator McCarty acted improperly
by establishing a practice that required Wilson to pay for
copies of his own sick call slips; and (3) Superintendent
Varano initiated a policy which created constant illumination
in the SCI-Coal Twp. RHU and caused Plaintiff to suffer
multiple medical problems in violation of the inmate's
rights under the Eighth Amendment.
describes himself as being "a faith believer and
follower of the Hebrew-Israelite Culture/Religion." Doc.
1, ¶ 26. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was
confined in the SCI-Coal Twp. RHU on September, 2010 during
the holy fast day of Gedaliah.SCI-Coal Twp. prisoners observing
the Gedaliah related fasting are normally provided with a
Kosher bag meal. The initial claim raised in the Complaint
contends that Wilson was improperly denied his Kosher bag
meals on Gedaliah by Defendants Folk, and Burns due to his
earlier placement on a modified food loaf meal
restriction.The denial of a religious fast meal
allegedly violated Plaintiff's First Amendment right to
exercise his religious beliefs and also constituted cruel and
unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
Complaint next maintains that as a result of the December
2010 removal of cell light switches from certain RHU cells
ordered by Superintendent Varano, prisoners confined in those
cells are subjected to sixteen (16) hours of bright constant
illumination from a double candle fluorescent
light. When that light is dimmed each a single
red dim candle fluorescent light remains on in those RHU
cells for the remainder of the day. Wilson alleges that this
constant daily illumination during the course of his extended
confinement (13 months) in the RHU caused him to develop
constant headaches, eye pain, mental stress, and depression
and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. See
id. at ¶ 55. It is specifically alleged that
Plaintiff suffered blackouts on March 23, 2011, April 7, 2011
and October 24, 2011.
final claims raised in the Complaint contends that Health
Care Administrator McCarty acted improperly by establishing a
practice that required prisoners, including Wilson, to pay
for copies of their own sick call slips. A supplement filed
by Plaintiff indicates that he is seeking injunctive and
declaratory relief as well as punitive and compensatory
damages. See Doc. 9.
pending is Corrections Defendants' motion for summary
judgment. See Doc. 88. The opposed motion is ripe
judgment is proper if "the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); See also Saldana v. Kmart
Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). A factual
dispute is "material" if it might affect tl outcome
of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v. Libert\
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute
is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient
evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact-finder
to return a verdict for the non-moving party. .Id.
at 248. The court must resolve all doubts as to the existence
of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the
non-moving party. Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232; see
also Reeder v. Sybron Transition Corp., 142 F.R.D. 607,
609 (M.D. Pa. 1992). Unsubstantiated arguments made in briefs
are not considered evidence of asserted facts. Versarge
v. Township of Clinton, 984 F.2d 1359, 1370 (3d Cir.
the moving party has shown that there is an absence of
evidence to support the claims of the non-moving party, the
non- moving party may not simply sit back and rest on the
allegations in its complaint. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Instead, it must
"go beyond the pleadings and by [its] 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." Id.
(internal quotations omitted); see also Saldana, 260
F.3d at 232 (citations omitted). Summary judgment should be
granted where 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 at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at
322-23. " 'Such affirmative evidence - regardless of
whether it is direct or circumstantial - must amount to more
than a scintilla, but may amount to less (in the evaluation
of the court) than a preponderance.'"
Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (quoting Williams v.
Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir.
Defendants claim entitlement to entry of summary judgment on
the grounds that: (1) the denial of a Kosher bag meal was
appropriate because it was reasonably related to legitimate
penological interests; (2) Defendant Varano is entitled to
summary judgment; (3) there is no basis for a constituional
claim against Health Care Administrator McCarty; (4)
Plaintiff is not entitled to punitive damages; and (5)
Remaining Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.
See Doc. 91, p. 2.
Defendants argue in part that the Complaint has failed to
make the requisite showing to warrant an award of punitive3
damages. See Doc. 91, p. 25.
award of punitive damages under § 1983 is appropriate
when a defendant's conduct was shown to be motivated by
evil motive or intent, or when it involves reckless or
callous indifference to the federally protected rights of
others. Coleman v. Kaye, 87 F.3d 1491, 1497 (3d Cir.
1996); see also Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 56
(1983). In Alexander v. Riga, 208 F.3d 419, 430 (3d
Cir. 2000), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
reiterated the standard established in Smith and
Coleman. The Court in Alexander added that