United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.
Owens, an inmate presently confined at the Mahanoy State
Correctional Institute, Frackville, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Mahanoy), filed this pro se civil rights
action. By Memorandum and Order dated February 21, 2014,
Defendants' unopposed motion to dismiss was construed as
seeking partial dismissal and partially
granted. See Doc. 22.
Defendants are the following officials at Plaintiff's
prior confinement, the State Correctional Institution, Camp
Hill Pennsylvania, (SCI-Camp Hill): Safety Manager Scott
Fair; Major John Horner; Unit Managers Rodney Carberry and
Christopher Chambers; Lieutenants Flowers and Davy; Sergeant
Cook; and Correctional Officers Briggs, Reynolds, and
undisputed that Plaintiff had two separate periods of
confinement at SCI-Camp Hill from April 4, 2011-June 1, 2011
and from September 13, 2011 through October 11, 2011,
respectively. According to the surviving portion of the
Complaint, Owens was assigned to the SCI-Camp Hill Restricted
Housing Unit (RHU) during his initial confinement because of
misconduct at his prior place of confinement. Plaintiff's
RHU cell is described as having a broken overhead light and a
plumbing problem which caused flooding whenever the water in
his cell was turned on. Despite being made aware of those
conditions, Unit Manager Carberry and Major Horner allegedly
refused to move Owens to a different cell.
housed in the RHU on April 9, 2011, Owens alleges that he was
placed on plexiglass shield and movement restriction for
approximately one (1) week by Defendant Flowers. See
Doc. 1, ¶ 16. During that period, Owens contends that he
was refused showering, exercising, and shaving privileges, as
well as water, bedding and cell cleaning. A second week long
period consisting of the same deprivations and restrictions
listed above was allegedly ordered by Lieutenant Flowers on
May 5, 2011. Moreover, Owens was also purportedly denied food
for several days due to the lack of overhead lighting in his
cell. See Id. at ¶ 24.
next states that he returned to SCI-Camp Hill from the State
Correctional Institution, Graterford, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Graterford) on September 12, 2011 and was placed in a
different RHU cell with a plexiglass shield allegedly at the
direction of Lieutenant Davy. Plaintiff asserts that the
imposition of a shield was improper, aggravated his asthma,
and caused him to suffer shortness of breath. His RHU cell is
described as having rusty walls, a leaky toilet, and being
insect infested. During this period, Owens was purportedly
denied adequate medical treatment for a left ear
was allegedly served tomato soup by Flowers and Correctional
Officer Garner on September 28, 2011, even though he had a
documented history of being allergic to tomatoes. See
Id. at ¶ 46. Owens next asserts that he was
physically assaulted in his cell by Defendants Cook and
Garner that same day when they responded to a report that he
had suffered an allergic reaction from eating the tomato
soup. This alleged use of excessive force is also described
as constituting assault and battery. In addition, Defendants
Briggs and Reynolds purportedly witnessed the attack and
failed to intervene.
this incident, Plaintiff states that he was left in handcuffs
for approximately five (5) hours as a punitive measure by
Flowers, Cook and Garner. This application of restraints
allegedly caused Owens to suffer temporary loss of feeling in
his hands, arms, and fingers.
pending is the Remaining Defendants's motion for summary
judgment. See Doc. 69. By Order dated April 27,
2017, Owens was granted thirty (30) days in which to submit
either a motion to compel discovery or file a response to the
summary judgment motion. See Doc. 82. He was
thereafter granted an extension of time in which to comply
with the April 27, 2017 Order. See Doc. 84. Despite
being granted an ample opportunity to do so, Owens has not
filed a response. Accordingly, the summary judgment motion
will be deemed unopposed.
Defendants claim entitlement to entry of summary judgment on
the grounds that: (1) the official capacity claims against
them are moot; (2) there are no assertions of personal
involvement in constitutional misconduct raised against
Defendants Fair and Horner; (3) Plaintiff's surviving
claims were not administratively exhausted; (4) the
conditions of Plaintiff's confinement were
constitutionally adequate; (5) a viable retaliation claim has
not been stated; (6) Owens was not subjected to unwarranted
use of excessive force; and (7) the state law claims are
barred by sovereign immunity. See Doc. 73, p. 2.
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.
Court's February 21, 2014 Memorandum and Order previously
ruled that Owens' claims for monetary damages brought
against the individual Defendants in their official
capacities were barred by the Eleventh Amendment. It was also
noted that any claims for injunctive relief against the
individual Defendants in their official capacities appeared
to be moot since Owens was no longer confined at SCI-Camp
Hill. Remaining Defendants initial summary judgment argument
asserts that the surviving official capacity claims are
subject to dismissal on the basis of mootness. See
Doc. 73, p. 25.
courts can only resolve actual cases or controversies, U.S.
Const., Art. III, § 2, and this limitation subsists
“through all stages of federal judicial proceedings. .
. .” Id. see also Steffel v.
Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 459 (1974) (the adjudicatory
power of a federal court depends upon “the
continuing existence of a live and acute
controversy)” (emphasis in original). “An actual
controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not
merely at the time the complaint is filed.”
Id. at n.10 (citations omitted). “Past
exposure to illegal conduct is insufficient to sustain a
present case or controversy . . . if unaccompanied by
continuing, present ...