United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.
Donald Richard Mertz (“Plaintiff”), an inmate at
a Pennsylvania state correctional facility, was stabbed by
another inmate on November 17, 2015, resulting in injuries to
his head. Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against three prison
officials, alleging that they failed to protect him from the
assault in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment
rights. After answering the complaint, the defendants deposed
Plaintiff and filed a motion for summary judgment on all
claims against them. Plaintiff has not responded to the
motion. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
will grant Defendants' motion.
around November 5, 2015, Plaintiff began his incarceration at
Northampton County Prison (“the Facility”), where
he had stayed during several earlier periods of
incarceration. See Mertz Dep. at 6:19-23, May 18, 2016,
Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. B, ECF No. 17. According to
Plaintiff, on November 17, 2015, at around 11:15 a.m., fellow
inmate Eshaun Martin (“Martin”) attacked him. See
Compl. 2-3, ECF No. 3. Martin allegedly stabbed Plaintiff in
the back of his head and used his fingernails to cut
Plaintiff's face. Id. at 3. Plaintiff was taken
to Easton Hospital, where he received eight staples in his
deposition, Plaintiff explained that he and Martin were
acquaintances prior to their incarceration. See Mertz Dep. at
19:15-18. A few years ago, Martin and his girlfriend stayed
with Plaintiff for about a month, when they did not have
anywhere else to stay. See Id. at 19:19-25, 20:1-22.
During one of Plaintiff's prior periods of incarceration,
he signed a form requesting not to be housed with Martin. See
Id. at 19:2-12.
to Plaintiff, he was placed in administrative segregation
upon his arrival at the Facility in early November 2015.
Id. at 17:13-19. While in administrative
segregation, Plaintiff was permitted to have visitors only in
the morning. See Id. at 22:8-15. Plaintiff wanted to
move out of administrative segregation so that his mother,
who was undergoing cancer treatment at the time and could not
visit in the morning, would be able to visit him. See
Id. at 21:15-22, 22:4-17. Plaintiff claims that when
he requested to move out of administrative segregation,
Defendant John Harmon (“Harmon”) told Plaintiff
that he could not move unless he signed a form stating that
he revoked his prior request not to be housed with Martin.
Id. at 34:18-22, 35:13-23. As a result, Plaintiff
signed the form permitting him to be housed on the same cell
block as Martin. Id.
alleges that about a month prior to his incident with Martin,
prison officials caught Martin with a weapon in his cell - a
piece of steel that could be used to stab someone.
Id. at 36:9-17. Plaintiff claims that this
information was in Martin's prison record, Id.
at 36:18-25, and that if Plaintiff had known about it, he
would never have signed the form agreeing to be housed with
Martin, Id. at 35:24-25, 36:1-8.
Plaintiff signed the form agreeing to be housed on the same
cell block as Martin, Plaintiff was moved to his new cell,
which he occupied alone. Id. at 39:18-25. According
to Plaintiff, the assault happened approximately two hours
after he was moved. Id. at 40:11-13. Plaintiff
claims that the correctional officer assigned to
Plaintiff's cell block was not on the cell block during
the assault. Id. at 40:16-25. According to
Plaintiff, he and Martin were both in the hallway, where they
had a brief verbal exchange. Id. at 41:3-6. After
Martin said he did not have any problem with Plaintiff,
Martin waited until Plaintiff's back was turned, and then
stabbed him with a piece of a light bulb. Id. at
41:3-9. Plaintiff claims that the incident was captured on
camera, although he is not sure whether the camera was
working. Id. at 42:11-15.
filed this action on December 14, 2015, bringing claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Harmon, Deputy Warden Joseph
Kospiah, and Deputy Warden David Penchishen (collectively,
“Defendants”). ECF No. 1. The Court granted in
forma pauperis status on December 18, 2015. ECF No. 2.
Plaintiff's complaint appears to bring an Eighth
Amendment claim based on Defendants' failure to protect
him from Martin's attack. See Compl. at 3.
answered the complaint on March 2, 2016. ECF No. 11.
Plaintiff moved for the appointment of counsel on March 14,
2016. ECF No. 12. The Court held a pretrial status conference
on April 18, 2016. See ECF No. 13.
April 19, 2016, the Court issued an order (1) granting
Defendants leave to depose Plaintiff by June 17, 2016; (2)
ordering Defendants to file a motion for summary judgment by
July 18, 2016; and (3) scheduling a status conference for
August 1, 2016, to determine whether Plaintiff would need any
discovery in order to respond to Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. ECF No. 16. The Court also denied
Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel without
deposed Plaintiff on May 18, 2016, see ECF No. 18, and
subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on July 11,
2016, ECF No. 17. The Court held a status conference on
August 1, 2016, during which the Court reviewed with
Plaintiff the materials Defendants produced and found that
Defendants had given Plaintiff sufficient discovery. See ECF
No. 18. The Court ordered Plaintiff to respond to any motion
for summary judgment by August 31, 2016. See Id. The
Court noted that if Plaintiff did not file a response, the
Court would proceed to consider Defendants' motion for
summary judgment on the basis of Defendants' submission
alone. See id.
today, Plaintiff has not filed a response to Defendants'
motion for summary judgment. The Court ...