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Williams v. Montgomery County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 10, 2017



          EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.

         Plaintiff Eugene Williams (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages for the conditions of his confinement at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (“MCCF”), where he was temporarily housed from December 3, 2015, through January 13, 2016, to facilitate an appearance in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that he is handicapped and was forced to shower without a chair at MCCF.

         Defendant Julio M. Algarin (“Defendant”), who is and was the prison warden at MCCF at all times relevant to this case, filed a motion for summary judgment that Plaintiff opposed. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion, dismiss all claims, and enter judgment in favor of Defendant in this case.


         Plaintiff arrived on crutches at MCCF on December 3, 2015, after a brief hospitalization for back injuries he claimed to have suffered while being transported in a paddy wagon from SCI-Graterford to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas the previous day.[1] See Williams Dep. at 12:16-22, 14:10-13, 19:20-24, Feb. 14, 2017, ECF No. 19-4. Following his arrival, Plaintiff was housed in section F-3, where he was restricted to a bottom bunk for sleeping and a bottom-tier cell assignment. Id. at 20:14-21:3.

         The only shower that Plaintiff ever used at MCCF was the shower on the bottom tier of the F-3 housing section.[2] Id. at 24:21-25. This shower is equipped with a grab bar and non-skid rubber mat. Id. at 22:10-19; 24:12-16 (describing “stainless steel” grab bar and “a black rubber mat . . . there to keep you actually from slipping on the wet surface”); Julio M. Algarin Aff. at ¶ 4, Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 2, ECF No. 19-3. When Plaintiff first arrived at MCCF on December 3, 2015, no shower chair was available for the bottom tier F-3 shower. Williams Dep. at 26:5-11. As a result, Plaintiff suffered minor injuries from three separate falls in the shower. Id. at 48:13-50:20.

         Plaintiff spoke with his caseworker counselor, Channel Moore, about the lack of a shower chair, and he was furnished with an inmate handbook detailing the grievance process at MCCF. Id. at 27:2-24; Moore Aff. at ¶¶ 3-5, Def.'s Supplemental Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 3, ECF No. 30-3. Approximately five to seven days after his arrival at MCCF, Plaintiff claims, he submitted a formal written request for a shower chair. Williams Dep. at 30:18-22. At the top of the request form, he wrote the word “grievance.” Id. at 28:2-4.[3]

         Within four or five days of submitting the formal request form, Plaintiff allegedly had conversations with two different prison officials, Captain Scott Moyer and Major Reginald Brown, [4] about his need for a shower chair. Id. at 30:23-31:22. Captain Moyer informed Plaintiff that the neighboring F-2 housing section had a shower chair that Plaintiff could share, and he personally brought the chair from F-2 to Plaintiff. Id. at 28:21-29:1; Captain Scott Moyer Aff. at ¶¶ 6-8, Def.'s Supplemental Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1, ECF No. 30-1.

         Approximately three weeks after Plaintiff's arrival at MCCF, a chair was made available to be shared between the F-2 and F-3 housing sections. Williams Dep. at 43:23-44:20. From that point forward, the shower chair was kept in a maintenance closet on the F Cell Block. Id. at 44:21-45:12. Plaintiff testified that he “always used the chair when it was available.” Id. at 48:11-12.

         Plaintiff applied to the Court to proceed in forma pauperis on August 22, 2016. ECF No. 1. On September 1, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff's request, ECF No. 2, and his complaint was filed the same day, ECF No. 3. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on October 31, 2016. ECF No. 7.

         Following a hearing held on the record with both parties on December 16, 2016, the Court issued an order granting in part and denying in part Defendant's motion to dismiss. ECF No. 11. In the same order, the Court directed Defendant to take Plaintiff's deposition and attach it to a motion for summary judgment.[5] See id.

         Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on March 20, 2017, ECF No. 19, and Plaintiff responded in opposition on April 3, 2017, ECF No. 23. The Court held a status conference on the record with Plaintiff and counsel for Defendant on April 24, 2017. See ECF No. 28. Following this conference, the Court ordered Defendant to supplement his motion for summary judgment and afforded Plaintiff an opportunity to supplement his response, if he so desired. ECF No. 29. In accordance with this order, Defendant filed a supplemental memorandum supporting his motion for summary judgment on May 10, 2017. ECF No. 30. Plaintiff did not file any supplemental materials.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by ‘the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact.” Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986)). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the litigation; a ...

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