United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann, United States District Judge
pro se civil rights action was initiated by Shawn
Christian Murray regarding events which allegedly transpired
during his prior confinement as a pre-trial detainee at the
Franklin County Prison, Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania.Remaining Defendants are the following
officials of the Franklin County Prison: Warden Daniel Keen,
and Deputy Wardens Russell Rouzer and Michelle
Memorandum and Order dated March 11, 2014, Defendants'
motion to dismiss the Complaint was partially granted.
See Doc. 28. As a result of that decision, the only
remaining claim alleges that the Remaining Defendants
subjected Plaintiff to constant illumination which caused him
to suffer sleep deprivation, eyesight problems, and
states that he entered the Franklin County Prison as a
pre-trial detainee on August 27, 2012. See Doc. 1,
¶ 22. Murray remained confined in the Franklin County
Prison until approximately March 25, 2013. He later returned
to that facility in November 2013 and remained there until
February 2014. The Complaint contends that throughout the
course of Plaintiff's confinement in the Franklin County
Prison, he suffered sleep deprivation, eyesight problems, and
headaches from the continuous lighting in the cells.
pending is Remaining Defendants' motion for summary
judgment. See Doc. 62. The opposed motion is ripe
Defendants seek entry of summary judgment on the grounds
that: (1) any claims against them in their official
capacities are barred; (2) the claim of excessive lighting is
constitutionally insufficient; and (3) they are entitled to
Standard of Review
judgment is proper 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 a judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); See also Saldana v. Kmart
Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). A factual
dispute is “material” if it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual
dispute is “genuine” only if there is a
sufficient evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable
fact-finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party.
Id. at 248. The court must resolve all doubts as to
the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of
the non-moving party. Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232;
see also Reeder v. Sybron Transition Corp., 142
F.R.D. 607, 609 (M.D. Pa. 1992). Unsubstantiated arguments
made in briefs are not considered evidence of asserted facts.
Versarge v. Township of Clinton, 984 F.2d 1359, 1370
(3d Cir. 1993).
the moving party has shown that there is an absence of
evidence to support the claims of the non-moving party, the
non-moving party may not simply sit back and rest on the
allegations in its complaint. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Instead, it must
“go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits,
or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.
(internal quotations omitted); see also Saldana, 260
F.3d at 232 (citations omitted). Summary judgment should be
granted where a party “fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at
322-23. “‘Such affirmative evidence - regardless
of whether it is direct or circumstantial - must amount to
more than a scintilla, but may amount to less (in the
evaluation of the court) than a preponderance.'”
Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (quoting Williams v.
Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir.
Defendants assert that since they are county employees the
claims against them in their official capacities are actually
claims against Franklin County. The initial summary judgment
argument contends that since that Plaintiff has not asserted
a claim of municipal liability against Franklin County, the
official capacity claims against the individual Remaining
Defendants cannot proceed. See Doc. 63, p. 8.
Plaintiff counters that his official capacity claims should
proceed because twenty-four (24) hour lighting is a standing
operating procedure of the Franklin County
Prison. See Doc. 68, p. 6.
municipal body or other local governmental unit may be a
“person” subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978)(“Congress did intend
municipalities and other local government units to be
included among those persons to whom § 1983
applies.” It is well settled that a § 1983 claim
against a state official in his or her official capacity
should be treated as a claim against the State. See Hafer
v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991). It has been similarly
recognized that § 1983 claims against individual county
officials, such as the Remaining Defendants, in their
official capacities “represent another way to sue the
municipality of which the officer is an agent.”
Pennavaria v. Walton, No. 10-cv-415, 2010 WL 2650413
*4 (W.D. Pa. June 30, 2010). As such, official capacity
claims against ...