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Young v. Grube

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 25, 2017



          STENGEL, J.


         Anthony Young claims that while incarcerated at Northampton County Jail, a correctional officer grabbed him by the throat and used a set of keys to punch him in the mouth. Young brings claims for excessive force, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the correctional officer and a prison supervisor. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. I will grant the motion as to the prison supervisor but deny the motion as it pertains to the correctional officer.


         On January 13, 2015, Anthony Young was incarcerated at Northampton County Jail. Early that morning, another inmate, Geffrey Desir, was moved to the unit Mr. Young was housed in. According to Mr. Young, Desir was causing a ruckus. Mr. Young yelled at Desir to quiet down because he was trying to sleep.

         The rest of the day, Desir and Young argued with each other from their respective cells. At one point, Young claims Desir said, "when I come out, I am going to eff you up, you know." (Young Dep. 26:25-27:2). Young then overheard Desir ask defendant Gerald Grube, a correctional officer ("CO"), to let him out so he could "fuck [Young] up." (Id. at 27:15-17). CO Grube let Young and Desir out of their cells around the same time. (Id. at 27:17).

         Mr. Young claims, once out of their cells, Desir came at him "in a threatening manner" so he hit Desir twice. (Id. at 27:17-24). After this happened, CO Grube punched Young in the mouth with the keys CO Grube uses to unlock the cells. (Id. at 29:20-30:3, 33:2-11). Young did not do anything threatening toward CO Grube. (Id. at 32:22). After CO Grube hit Young, he allegedly said: "You didn't know I could hit that hard for an old guy, did you[?]" (Id. at 32:7-8). This incident was captured on video surveillance.

         After being hit, Young's mouth was bleeding so he went to the medical unit. (Id. at 34:21-24). Young's nose was also bleeding. (Doc. No. 3 ¶ III). Since this fight, Young has had to visit the dentist three times. (Id.). He had cuts on his mouth that healed weeks later. Since being hit by CO Grube, he had excruciating pain in one of his teeth, which eventually had to be removed. (Young Dep. 36:12-16). He has since told a psychologist at the prison that he wakes up scared in the middle of the night to the sound of keys and that he is afraid he will get attacked again by a correctional officer. (Id. at 34:18-20).

         In addition to CO Grube, Mr. Young sued Ryan Ziegler, a lieutenant at the Northampton County Jail. According to Mr. Young, Lieutenant Ziegler "didn't do anything. He didn't attack me or nothing." (Id. at 35:2-3). The only reason Mr. Young named Lieutenant Ziegler in the lawsuit is "because he was the lieutenant who handled the situation, " meaning, "he was the supervisor on duty" at the time the fight occurred. (Id. at 35:5-8). However, Mr. Young was adamant in his deposition testimony that Lieutenant Ziegler "wasn't involved at all" in this incident. (Id. at 35:11).


         Summary judgment is proper "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). For an issue to be "genuine, " a reasonable fact-finder must be able to return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Id.

         A party seeking summary judgment initially bears responsibility for informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing relevant portions of the record, including depositions, documents, affidavits, or declarations, or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or showing that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Summary judgment is therefore appropriate when the non-moving party fails to rebut the moving party's argument that there is no genuine issue of fact by pointing to evidence that is "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must draw "all justifiable inferences" in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. The Court must decide "not whether ... the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could ...

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