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Bookwalter v. Keen

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 3, 2017

WARDEN KEEN, et al., Defendants


          William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         The sole remaining defendant in this action, Counselor Edwards, an employee of the Franklin County Prison (the Prison), seeks dismissal of the pro se plaintiff, Joseph Bookwalter's, failure-to-protect claim against him, arguing that it is time-barred. (ECF No. 26, Mot. to Dismiss).

         On March 6, 2017, we converted Counselor Edwards' motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment because Counselor Edwards' motion relied on documents outside of the complaint. (ECF No. 28, Order). Bookwalter was given twenty-one days to file an opposition to Counselor Edwards' motion for summary judgment. To date, Bookwalter has failed to respond or otherwise oppose Counselor Edwards's potentially dispositive motion.

         For the reasons that follow, the unopposed motion will be granted and the case dismissed.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 sets forth the standards and procedures for granting a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is proper where “the movant shows that 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.P. 56(a). The court must determine “whether the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and whether the moving party is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” MacFarlan v. Ivy Hill SNF, LLC, 675 F.3d 266, 271 (3d Cir. 2012)(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). “[T]his standard provides that 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.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 - 48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509 - 10, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

         A “material” fact is any fact that might affect the outcome of a suit under the governing substantive law. Gonzalez v. Sec'y of Dept. of Homeland Sec., 678 F.3d 254, 261 (3d Cir. 2012). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the non-moving party's favor. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510.

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must view all facts and draw all reasonable inferences “in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” Blunt v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 265 (3d Cir. 2014)(internal quotation marks omitted). To prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must affirmatively identify those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Santini v. Fuentes, 795 F.3d 410 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2553). If this burden is met, the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts.” Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Rather, the party opposing summary judgment “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). Failure to properly support or contest an assertion of fact may result in the court considering the fact undisputed for the purpose of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         III. Statement of Facts

         From the pleadings, declarations and exhibits submitted therewith, the following facts are ascertained as undisputed or, where disputed, reflect Bookwalter's version of the facts, pursuant to this court's duty to view all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2510.

         Between November 16 and December 23, 2013, Bookwalter was housed at the Franklin County Prison, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1, Compl.) In November 2013, Bookwalter witnessed a female staff member having sex with a male inmate in the F-Block Janitor's closet. (Id., p. 5). Bookwalter reported this event via an institutional request slip “which ended up getting into the hands of other inmates somehow when only counselors had availability to access to (sic) them.” (Id.) Counselor Edwards was the “only person who had access to the request slip [Bookwalter] put in that leaked its way back to the block.” (Id., ¶ 22). Following this disclosure, Bookwalter was assaulted by another inmate. (Id., ¶ 21). Bookwalter affirms that he exhausted all available administrative remedies concerning his 2013 assault claim. (Id., p. 2).

         On November 29, 2012, Bookwalter filed a grievance claiming that he was assaulted (“jumped”) by another inmate after his request slip reporting staff fraternization with inmates was “leaked.” (ECF No. 26-3, Inmate Grievance). Bookwalter was ...

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