United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ORDER ADOPTING IN PART THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
AND GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR ALL DEFENDANTS EXCEPT FOR
BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
James Oscar Wright, a former state prisoner in Pennsylvania,
brings the present action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment rights.
Specifically, in Count I, Plaintiff alleges that certain
Pennsylvania Department of Correction employees ("the
Commonwealth Defendants") used excessive force when, on
July 23, 2013, they restrained him near his cell, resulting
in Plaintiff suffering a broken foot. In Count II, Plaintiff
alleges that the Commonwealth Defendants-along with Defendant
Nancy McGarvie, a prison doctor, and Defendant Corizon
Health, Inc. ("Corizon"), the private company
tasked with providing health care to the prison's
inmates-acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs
serious medical needs following the July 23, 2013 incident by
not timely and adequately providing Plaintiff with proper
medical care. The Commonwealth Defendants consist of the
following employees of State Correctional Institute at Forest
("SCI Forest"), the prison in which Plaintiff was
formerly incarcerated: Debra Sauers, the Superintendent; Eric
Tice, the Deputy Superintendent; Michael Overmyer, the Deputy
Superintendent for Centralized Services; Raymond Burkhart and
Anthony Gatto, corrections officers; and Kim Smith, a health
care administrator. Pl's. Third Am. Compl., Dkt. 90
¶¶ 8-16. The Commonwealth Defendants have moved for
summary judgment as to Counts I and II. Defendants McGarvie
and Corizon, respectively, have moved for summary judgment on
the sole count against them, Count II.
the Court is the Report and Recommendation
("R&R") of the Honorable Susan Paradise Baxter,
United States Magistrate Judge, recommending that, as to
Count I, the Court deny summary judgment for one of the
Commonwealth Defendants-Anthony Gatto, the corrections
officer who Plaintiff claims used excessive force-and grant
summary judgment for the remaining, supervisory Commonwealth
Defendants. The Commonwealth Defendants did not file
objections as to the recommendation regarding
Count II, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommends that the Court
grant summary judgment for the Commonwealth Defendants and
for Defendant McGarvie, but deny summary judgment for
Defendant Corizon. Plaintiff filed objections to-and, later,
a response regarding-the recommendation that the Court grant
summary judgment as to Count II for the Commonwealth
Defendants and McGarvie. Corizon filed objections-and, later,
a response to Plaintiffs Objections. McGarvie filed a
response in opposition to Plaintiffs Objections.
reviewed the Complaint, the parties' briefs, and the
R&R, and finding no objection as to the recommendation
that, as to Count I (excessive force), the Court will deny
summary judgment for Defendant Gatto and grant it for the
remaining Commonwealth Defendants, the Court hereby adopts
the decision of the Magistrate Judge. Having further reviewed
the record and the objections on the remaining claims at
issue, the Court adopts in part the decision of the
Magistrate Judge as to Count II (deliberate indifference to
Plaintiffs serious medical needs).
Standard of Review
party objects to an R&R, the district court must review
de novo those portions of the R&R to which
objection is made. See United States v. Raddatz, 447
U.S. 667, 673 (1980); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). However, to obtain
de novo review, a party must clearly and
specifically identify those portions of the R&R to which
it objects. Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir.
1984). The district court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by
the Magistrate Judge. Raddatz, 447 U.S. at 673-74.
judgment is proper "if the movant shows 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.
Pro. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). "[T]he substantive law will identify which facts
are material. Only 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). A dispute
about a material fact is "genuine . . . if the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Id. In deciding a summary
judgment motion, the court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
justifiable inferences in its favor. Weldon v. Kraft,
Inc., 896 F.2d 793, 797 (3d Cir. 1990) (citing Sorba
v. Pennsylvania Drilling Co., 821 F.2d 200, 204 (3d Cir.
1987), cert, denied, 484 U.S. 1019 (1988)).
PLAINTIFF'S DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE CLAIM (COUNT
facts of this case are presented fully in the R&R and in
the Court's previous orders. See Dkt. 182;
see also Dkt. 76. Accordingly, the Court addresses
here only those facts and legal concepts relevant to the
parties' objections and responses thereto. See
Corizon's Objs., Dkt. 183; Pl's. Objs., Dkt. 184;
Corizon's Resp. to Pl's. Objs., Dkt. 187; Pl's.
Resp. to Corizon's Objs., Dkt. 187; McGarvie's Resp.
to Pl's. Objs., Dkt. 188. The gravamen of the
parties' objections concern whether Plaintiff properly
exhausted his administrative remedies following the July 23,
2012 incident that resulted in Plaintiffs foot being broken.
See Dkts. 183-188.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act's Exhaustion
Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a), requires that prisoners exhaust their
available administrative remedies before filing any suit
involving prison life, "whether they involve general
circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege
excessive force or some other wrong." Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); see also Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007) ("There is no
question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that
unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.").
Exhaustion is required "even where the relief
sought-monetary damages-cannot be granted by the
administrative process." Woodford v. Ngo, 548
U.S. 81, 85 (2006). In order to properly exhaust their
claims, prisoners must comply with the administrative review
process set forth by the relevant prison's grievance
process, including properly availing themselves of "all
administrative remedies." Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 231 (3d Cir. 2004); see also Jones,
549 U.S. at 218. "The level of detail necessary in a
grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary
from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the
prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the
boundaries of proper exhaustion." Jones, 549
U.S. at 218; accord Spruill, 372 F.3d at 231
("Mandatory exhaustion (with a procedural default
component) ensures that inmate grievances will be addressed
first within the prison's own system-in this respect, the
PLRA is thus appropriately defederalizing"). Failure to
exhaust is an affirmative defense; prisoner-plaintiffs are
not required to plead or demonstrate exhaustion.
Jones, 549 U.S. at 216.
all of the Defendants affirmatively pled that Plaintiff
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies pursuant to the
PLRA. Commonwealth Defs.' Answer, Doc. 93 at 5; ...