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Spellman v. Beard

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 4, 2017

LONNIE SPELLMAN, Plaintiff
v.
JEFFREY BEARD, et al ., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Hon. John E. Jones III

         April 4, 2017

         Plaintiff Lonnie Spellman (“Spellman” or “Plaintiff”), a Pennsylvania state inmate, incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution, Frackville, (“SCI-Frackville”), Pennsylvania, commenced this civil rights action on December 3, 2010. The named Defendants are the former Department of Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard and the following SCI-Frackville employees: Deputy Superintendent Robert Collins; Superintendent Michael Wenerowicz; Unit Manager George Evans; Grievance Officer Peter Damiter; Assistant Coordinators Joseph Lukashewski and Victor Mirarchi; Unit Manager Joanne Miranda; Major Michael Lorady; Correctional Officers Michael Throway, Ralph Johnson, and Kenneth Stutzman; the entire medical department; Thomas Derfler; and Anthony Kovalchik. Plaintiff complains that he is a non-smoker and that he would prefer not to share his cell with someone who smokes. (Doc. 1). On March 14, 2011, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 13).

         By Memorandum and Order dated October 30, 2015, all Defendants and claims were dismissed, except for Defendants Johnson and Evans, and Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim based on Environmental Tobacco Smoke (“ETS”). Doc. 59). Presently pending is a motion filed by Defendants Johnson and Evans, seeking summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 73). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment “should be rendered 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 judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). “[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 (1986) (emphasis in original); Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Cir. 1990). A disputed fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id.; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v. Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (stating that the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”); Wooler v. Citizens Bank, 274 F. App'x 177, 179 (3d Cir. 2008). The party opposing the motion must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case, which it bears the burden of proving at trial, because “a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex. at 323; see also Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992). “[T]he non-moving party ‘may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.'” Picozzi v. Haulderman, 2011 WL 830331, *2 (M.D. Pa. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2)). “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 North America. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).

         II. STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS[1]

         Plaintiff was transferred from SCI-Graterford to SCI-Frackville, where he arrived on or about March 22, 2010. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Upon his arrival, Spellman notified the reception committee that he is “not a problem providing [he] was not celled with a smoker.” Id. Plaintiff was told that SCI-Frackville is a non-smoking facility. Id. The Department of Corrections (“DOC”) has a policy prohibiting smoking inside its buildings. (Doc. 77-4 at 2). Inmates who smoke in their cells are reprimanded or disciplined when their identity is disclosed. (Doc. 77-2 at 9) (See also Doc. 82, Inmate Misconducts).

         Plaintiff's medical intake screening on March 22, 2010, revealed no allergies, physical disabilities or limitations or chronic medical conditions. (Doc. 77-6 at 7). Plaintiff's only complaint of a current condition was of shortness of breath “since December - mostly with walking far distances to dining hall.” Id. Plaintiff was taking Prozac and Trazodone for depression. Id.

         On March 24, 2010, Plaintiff was seen by the medical department for chest pain. (Doc. 77-6 at 8). The medical department scheduled him for an electrocardiogram (“EKG”) and blood work. Id. The EKG and lab work were completed on March 31, 2010. Id. Plaintiff was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”). Id. His blood work was negative for the human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), but did reveal a low white blood count. Id. When asked about the low white blood count, Plaintiff responded that he “always has low WBC's” and that he was “told [he has] sickle cell trait.” Id.

         From March 25, 2010 to April 5, 2010, Plaintiff was housed in B building, A Block, cell 1004. (Doc. 77-3 at 2). Plaintiff was celled with an inmate who smoked in the cell. (Doc. 1 at 5). On March 22, 2010, Plaintiff complained to CO Johnson and Unit Manager Evans. Id. On April 5, 2010, Plaintiff was moved to another cell and told to find a non-smoker cellmate by Unit Manager Evans. Id.

         From April 5, 2010 to April 21, 2010, Plaintiff was housed in B Building, A block, cell 1005. (Doc. 77-3 at 2). On April 17, 2010, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding being celled with a smoker. (Doc. 77-4 at 2). The cellmate denied smoking in the cell. Id. Unit Manager Evans moved Plaintiff to another cell to avoid conflict. Id.

         From April 21, 2010 to September 15, 2010, Plaintiff was housed in B Building, C block, cell 2049. (Doc. 77-3 at 2). On July 1, 2010, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding being celled with a smoker. ...


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