United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Stratton Peay, an inmate formerly confined at the Smithfield
State Correctional Institution, fSCI-Smithfield"), in
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, initiated the instant action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The matter is
proceeding via an amended complaint wherein Peay
names the following Defendants at SCI-Smithfield: Jon Fisher,
Lonnie Oliver, Jay Whitesel, Nathan Goss, Kenneth Crum, and
William Henry. (Doc. 17). Presently pending before the Court
is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 105). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion for
Summary Judgment Standard of Review
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).
party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing
the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catreti, 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,
denied507 U.S. 912 (1993).
"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
Id. (internal quotations, citations, and alterations
Statement of Undisputed Facts
allegations of the amended complaint pertain to Peay's
incarceration at SCI-Srnithfield. (Doc. 106, Statement of
Material Facts, ¶ 1).
alleges that Defendants Fisher, Whitesel, Oliver, and Goss
failed to protect him after he notified them that staff were
"'torturing' [him], 'siccing' inmates on
[him] to verbally abuse [him] and start 'fist-fights'
with [him]" in an "attempt to keep [him]
'quiet' regarding 0 being 'framed' for
crimes, " (Doc. 106, ¶ 9; Doc. 17, pp. 2-3).
sets forth First Amendment retaliation claims against unnamed
staff who allegedly tampered, read, and withheld his mail in
retaliation for Peay's assertion that he is innocent of
murder. (Doc. 106, ¶ 10; Doc. 17, p. 3).
asserts that all of the Defendants knew of and acquiesced in
Peay's assault by inmates Wilson and Reyes, the stealing
of Peay's Nike sneakers and box of oatmeal from his cell,
and his food being poisoned with herpes. (Doc. 106, ¶
11; Doc. 17, p. 4). Peay claims that these acts were
committed for "raising [his] 'Actual Innocence'
and staffs malfeasance." (Id.). Peay claims
that unnamed staff poisoned him "after raising staffs
involvement in the 4-29-14 assault." (Doc. 106, ¶
12; Doc. 17, p. 4). He alleges that Defendant Goss illegally
confiscated and kept his Walkman radio "after raising
staffs involvement in the 4-29-14 assault." (Doc. 106,
¶ 13; Doc. 17, p. 4). Peay further claims that Defendant
Henry failed to protect him from being poisoned with herpes
when he was "in charge of the housing unit and [knew]
beforehand, if not participating himself." (Doc. 106,
¶ 14; Doc. 17, p. 5).
claims that "Defendants all are liable for violating
policy, or having none, regarding 'cleaning' of cells
once exited and prior to the next inmate being housed
there." (Doc. 106, ¶ 15; Doc. 17, p. 5).
claims that Defendants Fisher, Whitesel, and Oliver refused
to remove Peay's Z code status "so they could
continue to cause [him] 'harm' (claustrophobia; etc.)
from the 1 Vi years' [he] served in
'solitary confinement.'" (Doc. 106, ¶ 16;
Doc. 17, p. 5).
further claims that Defendants found Peay guilty of fighting
"although % C.O.s witnessed me assaulted by 2
inmates." (Doc. 106, ¶ 17; Doc. 17, p. 5).
relief, Peay seeks monetary damages, punitive damages, a
temporary restraining order against Defendants and the
Department of Corrections ("DOC") restraining them
from tampering, reading, and withholding his legal mail and
obstructing his access to courts, removal of his Z code
status, an interstate transfer, all misconducts and negative
reports removed from his record, and an injunction preventing
staff from "hurting" and "obstructing court,
my mall, etc." (Doc. 106, ¶ 18; Doc, 17, p. 6).
Peay's Altercation with Inmates Reyes and Wilson
April 29, 2014, Peay fought with inmates Reyes and Wilson.
(Doc. 106, ¶ 19). On the same date, following the
altercation, Peay told RHU staff during a strip search that
correctional officers instigated the assault on him. (Doc.
106, ¶ 21).
April 29, 2014, correctional officer Peters issued Misconduct
Number B357021 charging Peay with Fighting due to his
altercation with inmates Reyes and Wilson, and Refusing to
Obey an Order for ignoring several orders to stop. (Doc. 106,
¶ 20). On May 5, 2014, Hearing Examiner Himes held a
hearing on Misconduct Number B357021. (Doc. 106, ¶ 25;
Doc. 106-1, p. 10). Hearing Examiner Himes ultimately found
Peay guilty of Fighting and Refusing to Obey an Order.
(Id.). Peay appealed Misconduct Number B357021 to
the Program Review Committee. (Doc. 106, ¶ 26). The
Program Review Committee denied Peay's appeal and found
that the facts were sufficient to support the underlying
decision. (Id.). The Program Review Committee
consisted of Defendant Whitesel, Corrections Classification
Program Manager Biser, and Unit Manager Morder. (Doc. 106,
¶ 27). On May 14, 2014, Peay appealed to Defendant
Fisher. (Doc. 106, ¶ 29). On May 19, 2014, Defendant
Fisher upheld the decisions of the Hearing Examiner and
Program Review Committee. (Doc. 106, ¶ 30; Doc. 106-1,
p. 13). Peay then appealed Misconduct Number B357021 to Final
Review. (Doc. 106, ¶ 35). On June 20, 2014, the DOC
Deputy Secretary vacated Misconduct Number B357021and
remanded it to permit recharge and rehearing. (Id.;
Doc. 106-1, p. 14).
April 29, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 507592 claiming
that staff failed to protect him. (Doc. 106, ¶ 22; Doc.
106-1, p. 16). In the grievance, Peay stated that he
contacted staff, including the Superintendent, Deputies, and
Captain of Security, concerning correctional officers
committing crimes, torture, and oppression against him in
attempts to silence him about a detective framing him for
murder. (Id.). Peay further complained that
correctional officers retaliated against him and had two
inmates physically assault him on April 29, 2014.
(Id.). On May 8, 2014, Lieutenant G, Allison denied
Grievance Number 507592 because Peay failed to provide
evidence supporting his allegations, and the inmates and
staff involved in the altercation denied Peay's
allegations. (Doc. 106, ¶ 28; Doc. 106-1, p. 17). On May
14, 2014, Peay appealed Grievance Number 507592 to Defendant
Fisher. (Doc. 106, ¶ 29; Doc. 106-1, p. 18). On May 19,
2014, Defendant Fisher upheld the denial of Grievance Number
507592. (Doc. 106, ¶ 31; Doc. 106-1, p. 19). Peay then
appealed Grievance Number 507592 to the Secretary's
Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals ("SOIGA").
(Doc. 106, ¶ 32; Doc. 106-1, p. 20). On June 23, 2014,
Chief Grievance Officer Dorina Varner upheld the denial of
Grievance Number 507592. (Doc. 106, ¶36; Doc. 106-1, p.
called the abuse hotline regarding his allegation that
correctional officers had two inmates assault him. (Doc. 106,
¶ 23). In response to Peay's call to the abuse
hotline, Captain Goss and Lieutenant Booher interviewed Peay
on April 30, 2014. (Doc. 106, ¶ 24). Peay told Captain
Goss and Lieutenant Booher that he believed Defendant Crum
had the inmates assault him. (Id.). Peay could not
provide any evidence to support his belief. (Id.).
Instead, he stated that it was "just what [he]
thought" happened and he "really [did] not
know." (/d.; Doc. 106-1, p. 17).
20, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 510472 claiming that
his counselor, Mr. Zimmerman, falsely accused him of
misconduct and that staff had him physically assaulted by two
inmates on April 29, 2014. (Doc. 106, ¶ 33; Doc. 106-1,
p. 23). On May 29, 2014, Defendant Oliver denied Grievance
Number 510472. (Doc. 106, ¶ 34; Doc. 106-1, p. 24). Peay
appealed Grievance Number 510472 to Defendant Fisher. (Doc.
106, ¶ 38). On June 25, 2014, Defendant Fisher upheld
the denial of Grievance Number 510472. (Id.; Doc.
106-1, p. 25). Peay filed no further appeals of Grievance
Number 510472. (Doc. 106, ¶ 38).
23, 2014, Peay sent a letter to the Huntingdon County
District Attorney raising several claims against prison
staff, including claims that white staff had him assaulted by
inmates Reyes and Wilson on April 29, 2014. (Doc. 106, ¶
37; Doc. 106-2, pp. 6-7). On July 7, 2014, the Huntingdon
County District Attorney forwarded Peay's correspondence
to the Department of Corrections. (Doc. 106, ¶ 39; Doc.
106-2, p. 10). The Department of Corrections initiated an
Office of Special Investigations and Intelligence
("OSII") Investigation regarding Peay's
allegations. (Doc. 106, ¶ 40). SCI-Smithfield Security
Lieutenant G. Allison conducted the investigation and
determined that Peay's allegations were unsubstantiated.
(Doc. 106, ¶¶ 41-42; Doc. 106-2, pp. 2-4,
Declaration of Gary Allison, ¶¶ 5-6). During the
investigation, the staff and inmates who were involved in the
April 29, 2014 altercation between Peay and inmates Reyes and
Wilson were interviewed. (Doc. 106, ¶ 43). They all
denied Peay's allegations. (Id.), Inmates Reyes
and Wilson stated that Peay had been coming at them on the
block for a month, they had enough, and beat him up. (Doc.
106, ¶ 44). When interviewed, Peay stated that he could
not provide any evidence to support his claim that staff had
inmates Reyes and Wilson assault him. (Doc. 106, ¶ 45).
Instead, Peay stated that is what he thinks happened.
(Id.). On October 20, 2014, the OSII reviewed the
investigation and determined that it was satisfactory. (Doc.
106, ¶ 46). On October 21, 2014, Security Lieutenant G.
Allison notified Peay that the investigation was being closed
because there was no evidence of abuse. (Doc. 106, ¶
Exhaustion of Administrative Review
January 10, 2014, Peay led Grievance Number 493085 claiming
that four envelopes and eight stamped envelopes were taken
from his cell. (Doc. 106, ¶ 48; Doc. 106-1, p. 27). No
Defendants were named in Grievance Number 493085.
(Id.). The grievance was upheld and Peay was
provided replacement envelopes. (Doc. 106, ¶ 48; Doc.
106-1, p. 28).
January 15, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 493773 claiming
that his radio and Walkman were confiscated during an
investigative search. (Doc. 106, ¶ 49; Doc. 106-1, p.
30). Defendant Goss was the only Defendant named in Grievance
Number 493773. (Id.). Grievance Number 493773 was
denied, and Peay did not file any appeals. (Id.).
4, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 508389 complaining about
a missing pair of Nike sneakers. (Doc. 106, ¶ 50). No
Defendants were named in this grievance. (Id.}. The
Grievance Coordinator and Facility Manager each denied
Grievance Number 508389. (Id.). Peay filed no
further appeals. (Id.).
10, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 509077. (Doc. 106,
¶ 51). In this grievance, Peay claimed that he sustained
burning sores on his penis after it touched the inside of a
toilet. (Id.). Peay did not name any Defendants in
Grievance Number 509077. (Id.). The grievance was
denied. (Doc. 106, ¶ 52). On May 28, 2014, Peay appealed
the denial of Grievance Number 509077 to Superintendent
Fisher, (/of.). In his appeal, Peay raised for the first time
a claim that "staff (C.O.s, etc.) may have placed
'Herpes' in my food/ on my toilet."
(Id.). Peay further stated that "[i]t's
been over '17' years since the last time I had sex of
any kind." (Id.).
28, 2014, Peay filed two grievances regarding sores on his
genitals and a possible diagnosis of herpes, assigned as
Grievance Number 511544 and Grievance Number 511546. (Doc.
106, ¶ 53). No Defendants were named in either
grievance. (Id.; Doc. 106-1, pp. 49, 51, 56). The
grievances were denied on initial review. (Doc. 106-1, pp.
52, 57). Peay appealed both grievances to the Facility
Manager Defendant Fisher. (Doc. 106-1, pp. 53, 58). On
appeal, Defendant Fisher upheld the responses of the
Grievance Coordinators. (Doc. 106-1, pp. 54, 59). Peay did
not appeal either grievance to the SOIGA. (Doc. 106, ¶
5, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 513171 regarding mail
that was returned by the mail room for lack of postage. (Doc.
106, ¶ 54). No Defendants were named in this grievance.
(Id.). Grievance Number 513171 was denied on initial
review, and Peay did not file any appeals. (Id.).
11, 2014, correctional officer Scott issued Misconduct Number
B600994 charging Peay with Assault, Abusive, Obscene Language
to an Employee and Refusing to Obey an Order. (Doc. 106,
¶ 55; Doc. 106-1, p. 64). Following a hearing, Peay was
found guilty of Assault and Refusing to Obey an Order. (Doc.
106-1, p. 66).
14, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 514295 wherein he
alleged that correctional officer Scott withheld his mail and
improperly opened his mail. (Doc. 106, ¶ 56; Doc. 106-1,
p. 68). No Defendants were named in Grievance Number 514295.
(Id.). The grievance was denied by both the
Grievance Coordinator and Facility Manager. (Doc. 106, ¶
56; Doc. 106-1, pp. 69, 71). Peay did not appeal to the
SOIGA. (Doc. 106, ¶ 56).
22, 2014, Peay filed Grievance Number 515115 and attempted to
collaterally appeal Misconduct Number B600994. (Doc. 106,
¶ 57; Doc. 106-1, p. 73). No Defendants were named in
Grievance Number 515115. (Id.). The grievance was
denied by both the Grievance Coordinator and Facility
Manager. (Doc. 106, ¶ 57; Doc. 106-1, pp. 74, 76). Peay
did not appeal to the SOIGA. (Doc. 106, ¶ 57).
did not file a grievance complaining that a box of oatmeal
was stolen from his cell at SCI-Smithfield, and he did not
file a grievance pertaining to the cleaning of cells at
SCI-Smithfield. (Doc. 106, ¶¶ 58-59).
Herpes Simplex Virus
17, 2014, Peay was tested for the herpes simplex virus. (Doc.
106, ¶ 61; Doc. 106-5, p. 14). The test was conducted by
Garcia Laboratory of Jackson, Michigan. [Id.). The
test results were negative for the herpes simplex virus.
(Doc. 106, ¶ 62; Doc. 106-5, p. 14). Peay's medical
records contain no documentation of a positive diagnosis of
the herpes simplex virus. (Doc. 106, ¶ 63; Doc. 106-4,
p. 3, ¶ 7; Doc. 106-5, p. 3, ¶ 4).
Z Code Status
code indicates that an inmate requires single-cell status and
may not be assigned cell-mates. (Doc. 106, ¶ 64). A Z
code may be assigned to inmates who have "a documented
history of aggressive or predatory behavior towards cell
partners, or staff has reason to believe would exhibit
assaultive or predatory behavior towards cell partners."
(Doc. 106, ¶ 65; Doc. 106-1, p. 80). "[A]n inmate
may request to be reviewed for the addition or deletion of a
Z Code housing classification. Staff shall make the final
determination regarding Program Code 'Z' addition or
removal." (Doc. 106, ¶ 66; Doc. 106-1, p. 80). To
determine whether a Program Code "Z" should be
added or removed, "a DC-46, Vote Sheet along with other
relevant information shall be circulated to the Facility
Manager/designee who shall make the final decision."
(Doc. 106, ¶ 67; Doc. 106-1, p. 80). "An inmate
assigned a Program Code T due to an inability to
double cell ...