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Karolski v. Beaver County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 22, 2017

CLIFFORD JOSEPH KAROLSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
BEAVER COUNTY, WARDEN WILLIAM SCHOUPPE, DEPUTY WARDEN CAROL STEELE-SMITH, CAPTAIN THOMAS TRKULJA, and GEORGE RUKERT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          Cynthia Reed Eddy, United States Magistrate Judge

         Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, with brief in support thereof. (ECF Nos. 46 and 47). Plaintiff has not responded to the motion, and the time for responding has now passed. Therefore, in the absence of any timely response by Plaintiff, the Court will deem the motion for summary judgment to be ripe for resolution. After reviewing the applicable record, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor of Defendants because there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit.

         Background

         Plaintiff, Clifford Joseph Karolski, is a state inmate presently confined at SCI Camp Hill. This case was received by the Court for filing on January 4, 2016, with the filing of the complaint and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (The Complaint, however, reflects that Plaintiff signed the Complaint on November 30, 2015). The case arises out of Karolski's confinement at the Beaver County Jail. In response to motions to dismiss, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on April 15, 2016. (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff's Amended Complaint took issue with virtually every aspect of his incarceration. Defendants again filed motions to dismiss and the Court dismissed the claims against Counselor Jennifer Monza, Valerie Bearer, Trinity Services, and Trinity Services Group at the pleading stage. (ECF No. 25). As such, the only remaining defendants are Beaver County, Warden William Schouppe, Deputy Warden Carole Steele-Smith, Captain Thomas Trkulja, and George Rukert. The following four claims remain:

1. Allegations that his First Amendment rights were violated by refusing to allow him to receive Holy Communion and confession;
2. Allegations that correction officials used excessive force in strip searching him and in aiming a Taser at his anus and while he was in the RHU, was “forced to sleep on a steel bed with only boxers on, no mattress, or heat as punishment for ‘misbehaving;”
3. Allegations that he was exposed to cold temperatures, vermin, and overcrowding; and
4. Allegations that he was denied access to the courts through inadequate access to the law library.

         Discovery has closed and Defendants now seek summary judgment based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies and because the record does not establish any civil rights violations.

         Standard of Review

         A district court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Additionally, “[s]ummary judgment is appropriate when ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.' ” Wright v. Corning, 679 F.3d 101, 103 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Orsatti v. New Jersey State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 482 (3d Cir. 1995)). An issue of fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id.

         The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden “of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). Once the moving party has met this burden, the non-moving party must counter with “ ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.' ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation omitted); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) (stating that “[a] party asserting that a fact ... is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by ... citing to particular parts of materials in the record ...; or ... [by] showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence ... of a genuine dispute”). The non-movant must show more than the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence” for elements on which the non-movant bears the burden of production. Anderson, 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

         Discussion

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), a prisoner is required to pursue all avenues of relief available within the prison's grievance system before bringing a federal civil rights action concerning prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Booth v. Churner,206 F.3d 289, 291 (3d Cir. 2000), aff'd, 532 U.S. 731 (2001). In order to fully exhaust remedies, a plaintiff must pursue a grievance through final administrative review. Salley v. PA Dept. of Corr., 181 F. App'x 258, 264 (3d Cir. 2006). “The PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether ...


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