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Moneyham v. Potter

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 14, 2017

ANTHONY MONEYHAM, Plaintiff
v.
L. POTTER, et al., Defendants

          Saporito Magistrate Judge

          MEMORANDUM

          JUDGE JAMES M. MUNLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Before the court for disposition is Magistrate Judge Joseph M. Saporito's report and recommendation (hereinafter “R&R”) which proposes granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 60). Plaintiff Anthony Moneyham (hereinafter “plaintiff”), a federal prisoner incarcerated at United States Penitentiary Lewisburg (hereinafter “USP-Lewisburg”), filed the instant lawsuit asserting constitutional tort claims against several Bureau of Prisons (hereinafter “BOP”) employees. For the following reasons, we will adopt Magistrate Judge Saporito's R&R and grant summary judgment for the defendants.

         Background

         Plaintiff, a pro se inmate currently incarcerated at USP-Lewisburg, initiated this action on February 24, 2015. (Doc. 1, Compl.). Plaintiff alleges a First Amendment retaliation claim pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Plaintiff averred in his complaint that two emergency medical technicians and a prison officer physically assaulted him on February 21, 2015, in retaliation for his refusal to end a hunger strike that plaintiff started to protest the discontinuation of his prescription medication. (Doc. 1, Compl.).

         On March 12, 2015, after this action had been initiated, plaintiff submitted his first Administrative Remedy Request with USP-Lewisburg in which he informed the prison administration of his alleged assault. (Doc. 13, at 8). Between March 12, 2015, and July 7, 2015, plaintiff completed the process for exhausting his administrative remedies. (Doc. 55-1, at 56). His appeal was denied and the BOP's General Counsel closed plaintiff's file. (Id.)

         Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 18), and on June 27, 2016, we adopted Magistrate Judge Saporito's recommendation and dismissed plaintiff's complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit. (Doc. 35). We further directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint to properly assert a constitutional tort claim within twenty-one (21) days limited to the assertion of a Bivens claim arising from the alleged assault on February 21, 2015. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on July 18, 2016. (Doc. 37, Am. Compl.). In addition to the three defendants named in the original complaint, the amended complaint names five additional defendants, each of whom allegedly participated in the February 21, 2015 assault. (Id. at 2). On July 21, 2016, Magistrate Judge Saporito recommended that plaintiff's complaint be dismissed sua sponte with respect to one of the newly added defendants, “C. Brininger, ” for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. 41). We adopted Magistrate Judge Saporito's recommendation on August 30, 2016, and dismissed plaintiff's claim against Defendant C. Brininger. (Doc. 47). We provided plaintiff with twenty-one (21) days to file an amended complaint to properly plead a cause of action against Defendant C. Brininger. (Id.) On September 16, 2016, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint naming Defendant C. Brininger. (Doc. 48).

         Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint[1] or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment on December 2, 2016. (Doc. 53). On August 3, 2017, Magistrate Judge Saporito, after reviewing the record, recommended that defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted after finding that plaintiff failed to properly exhaust all available administrative remedies prior to bringing this action. (Doc. 60). In his R&R, Magistrate Judge Saporito further found that the court lacks the authority to excuse this failure based on plaintiff's subsequent exhaustion of administrative remedies. Plaintiff filed timely objections to the R&R, and defendants filed a brief in response. (Doc. 61; Doc. 62). This matter is now ripe for disposition.

         Legal Standard

         In disposing of objections to a magistrate judge's R&R, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report against which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also Sullivan v. Cuyler, 723 F.2d 1077, 1085 (3d Cir. 1983). Absent objections to the report and recommendation, a district court should still "afford some level of review to dispositive legal issues raised by the report." Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir. 1987).The law describes this level of review as "reasoned consideration." Id. Absent a clear error on the face of the record or a manifest of injustice, we may adopt the recommendation by the magistrate judge. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) 1983 Advisory Committee Notes; see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Sullivan, 723 F.2d at 1085.

         The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Henderson, 812 F.2d at 977. The district court judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. Id.

         Discussion

         Magistrate Judge Saporito recommends granting defendants' motion for summary judgment based on plaintiff's failure to properly exhaust all available administrative remedies prior to bringing suit. Magistrate Judge Saporito found that because plaintiff only exhausted his administrative remedies after filing suit, we lack the authority to excuse plaintiff's failure. In plaintiff's response to Magistrate Judge Saporito's R&R, entitled “Plaintiff Objection to Magistrate Judge Report and Recommendation, ” plaintiff acknowledges Magistrate Judge Saporito's findings, yet plaintiff does not dispute them. (Doc. 61). Plaintiff does not contest that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, nor does he contest that his ...


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