United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
John E. Jones III, Judge
Michael Rivera (“Plaintiff” or
“Rivera”) commenced this action on October 29,
2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendant
C.O. II Sergeant R. McCoy (“McCoy”). (Doc. 1).
Presently before the Court is McCoy's motion (Doc. 26)
for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the
motion will be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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).
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.”
Id. 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).
STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS
his September 9, 2016 deposition, Rivera acknowledged that he
assaulted Corrections Officer Lewis (“C.O.
Lewis”) on January 20, 2015, while housed at the State
Correctional Institution at Dallas. (Doc. 29, ¶ 5).
During the assault, C.O. Lewis lost his left eye.
(Id. at 6). Rivera was sanctioned to 270 days in the
Restricted Housing Unit. (Id. at 8).
Grievance No. 580861
end of June or early July 2015, Rivera had his first contact
with Defendant McCoy at SCI Dallas. (Id. at 13). On
August 7, 2015, Rivera filed a grievance accusing Defendant
McCoy of engaging in the following conduct: (1) threatening
to take Rivera's eye out in retaliation for the assault
he committed on C.O. Lewis on January 20, 2015, (2)
threatening to fabricate misconduct reports, (3) threatening
to destroy his personal property, (4) calling him names, and
(5) threatening that, along with the assistance of Sergeant
Bienkowski, he would “get [him] back for what [he] did
[to C.O. Lewis].” (Id. at 15). On August 8,
2015, Rivera filed a separate grievance contending that
Defendant McCoy stated, “I don't care who you tell.
I'm still coming for that eye when you get transferred.
I'll see you in the ID room….” (Id.
at 16). The grievances were consolidated and assigned
Grievance Number 580861. (Id. at 17). On August 10,
2015, the Grievance Coordinator informed Rivera that, because
of his allegation of abuse, an investigation would be
conducted by the Office of Special Investigations and
Intelligence (“OSII”) in accordance with DC-ADM
001. (Id. at 20).
grievance was denied on August 24, 2015. (Id. at
21). Rivera appealed and indicated, for the first time, that
he had ten unsworn declarations from other inmates.
(Id. at 22). He did not name the inmates or submit
the declarations. (Id.) On September 1, 2015, the
Facility Manager upheld the denial of the grievance.
(Id. at 27). On September 4, 2015, Rivera appealed
to the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances &
Appeals (“SOIGA”); SOIGA referred the grievance
to OSII. (Id. at 28, 29).
OSII Investigation Report dated November 3, 2015, found that
Rivera's allegations of inmate abuse were
unsubstantiated. (Id. at 30, 32; Doc. 28-6, pp.
4-6). In the Summary of Findings, Security Lt. McNulty noted
that Rivera refused to be brought to security for an
interview and refused to identify the inmates who wrote
unsworn declarations. (Id. at 32-34; Id. at
5). Defendant McCoy was interviewed and denied all
allegations and asserted that he carried himself in a
professional manner. (Id. at 35); Id.).
December 10, 2015, SOIGA cited to the findings in the OSII
Report and upheld the denial of Rivera's grievance.
(Id. at 30; Doc. 28-5, p. 58). On December 22, 2015,
the Chief Grievance Officer from SOIGA upheld the denial
citing to the OSII investigation and all other levels of
review. (Id. at 31; Id. at p. 59).
to Rivera's complaint are a number of declarations
purportedly penned by fellow inmates housed in the RHU at the
relevant time. (Doc. 1-3, pp. 2-11, 19-21, 25-28, 32-38). The
declarations contain the fellow inmates' versions of the
August 7, 2015, and August 8, 2015, exchanges between Rivera
and Defendant McCoy. (Id.) All were executed on
either August 7, 2015, or August 8, 2015. (Id.)