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Talley v. C/O R. King

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 18, 2017

C/O R. KING, and C/O ORBASH, Defendants.


          Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge.

         Presently pending is the partial motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants. (ECF No. 23.) The issues have been fully briefed and the factual record has also been thoroughly developed. (ECF Nos. 24, 25, 26, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37). The motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.


         Quintez Talley (“Talley”) is a state prisoner currently confined at SCI-Graterford. He alleges that while incarcerated at SCI-Greene, Defendant Corrections Officer King used excessive force against him and Defendant Corrections Officer Orbash failed to protect him. Defendants do not seek summary judgment on these two claims. Talley also asserts claims for due process, equal protection, racial discrimination, retaliation, assault and battery, and mental harm.[3] Defendants seek summary judgment on these claims.

         On the morning of September 16, 2015, Defendants, Corrections Officers Robert King (“King”) and Robert Orbash (“Orbash”), were distributing breakfast trays in the SCI-Greene Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”). They did not give inmate, Patrick Davis, a breakfast tray.

         After Orbash gave Talley his food try, Talley took his “food slot hostage” by sticking his arm out the food aperture. At that point, King repeatedly slammed the wicket on Talley's arm while yelling racial epithets at him. According to Talley, Orbash saw the whole thing but failed to intervene.

         According to Defendants, after the incident with Talley, they continued to feed the prisoners on the pod. As they were exiting the pod, Talley attempted to strike King with the tray lid and his fists. Talley also allegedly threw food at King, spat at him, threw coffee and other drink items at him, and several minutes later, Talley threw material outside of his cell door and set the material on fire.

         Talley was issued two misconduct reports as a result of the incident with King: (1) Charge B561610 for assault and other infractions for assaulting King; and (2) Charge B561613 for arson. Both misconducts were dismissed without prejudice due to procedural problems and were not refiled.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment shall be granted if 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.” When applying this standard, the court must examine the factual record and reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 425 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Scheidemantle v. Slippery Rock Univ. State Sys. of Higher Educ., 470 F.3d 535, 538 (3d Cir. 2006)).

         The non-moving party cannot rest solely on assertions made in the pleadings, legal memoranda, or oral argument, but must “put up or shut up.” Berckeley Inv. Grp., Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 201 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Lacey Twp., 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985)). Plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and show specific facts by affidavit or by information contained in the filed documents (i.e., depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions) to meet his burden of providing elements essential to his claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). The non-moving party “must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue.” Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005).

         When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both genuine and material. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The inquiry, then, involves determining “‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1218 (1991) (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52). “After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.” Pignataro v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Reliance Ins. Co. v. Moessner, 121 F.3d 895, 900 (3d Cir. 1997)).

         The moving party has the initial burden of proving to the district court the absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party's claims. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; UPMC Health Sys. v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 391 F.3d 497, 502 (3d Cir. 2004). The burden then shifts to the non-movant to come forward with specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989) (non-movant must present affirmative evidence-more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance-which supports each element of his claim to defeat a properly presented motion for summary judgment).


         1.Federal Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         A plaintiff “must [show] a deprivation of a constitutional right and that the constitutional deprivation was caused by a person acting under the color of state law” to establish a viable Section 1983 claim. Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 235 (3d Cir. 2008), superseded on other grounds by Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 ...

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