United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Introduction and Procedural History
before the Court is a Report and Recommendation
("R&R") (Doc. 68) by Magistrate Judge Saporito,
in which he recommends that the Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. 52) filed by Defendants Lt. Reedy, Lt. Geisinger, Sgt.
Kosakowski, Unit Manager Ciocca, Corrections Officer Toluba,
Corrections Officer Wintersteen, Corrections Officer Martin,
Secretary Wetzel, and Superintendent Delbalso be granted in
part and denied in part.
District Court may "designate a magistrate judge to
conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to
submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for the disposition" of certain matters
pending before the Court. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). If a
party timely and properly files a written objection to a
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the
District Court "shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made." Id. at § 636(b)(1)(C); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); M.D. Pa. Local Rule 72.3;
Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011).
"If a party does not object timely to a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, the party may lose its
right to de novo review by the district court."
EEOC v. City of Long Branch, 866 F.3d 93, 99-100 (3d
Cir. 2017). However, "because a district court must take
some action for a report and recommendation to become a final
order and because the authority and the responsibility to
make an informed, final determination remains with the judge,
even absent objections to the report and recommendation, a
district court should afford some level of review to
dispositive legal issues raised by the report."
Id. at 100 (internal citations and quotation marks
time for filing objections to Magistrate Judge Saporito's
R&R has passed and no party has filed any response to the
review of the R&R for clear error or manifest injustice,
the Court will adopt in part and overrule in part the pending
Plaintiffs Amended Complaint (Doc. 11) does not clearly
delineate his claims, the Court reads the Amended Complaint
as alleging three causes of action: (1) violation of
Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment rights due to the defendants'
deliberate indifference; (2) violation of Plaintiffs
Fourteenth Amendment rights, and specifically his purported
liberty interest in pressing charges against his attacker,
Michael Sipes; and (3) a state law claim of negligence.
R&R, Magistrate Judge Saporito recommends that Plaintiffs
Fourteenth Amendment claim be dismissed with prejudice as
legally frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted (Doc. 68, at 28, ¶ 1; see
also, Id. at 9-11) and that Defendants' motion for
summary judgment be granted with respect to Plaintiffs state
law negligence claim (id. at 28, ¶ 3; see
also, Id. at 25-27). The Court agrees with the
Magistrate Judge's analysis on these issues and will
adopt these recommendations without further discussion.
respect to Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment claim, the R&R
recommends that summary judgment be granted in favor of
Defendants Wetzel, Delbalso, Reedy, and Geisinger, but that
the motion for summary judgment be denied as to Defendants
Martin, Wintersteen, Toluba, and Kosakowski. (Id. at
28-29, ¶¶ 4-5; see also, 11-23). Although
the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's analysis and
recommendation that Wetzel, Delbalso, Reedy, and Geisinger
should be granted summary judgment, we disagree that summary
judgment should not also be granted to Wintersteen, Martin,
and Toluba. Furthermore, although the R&R discusses
Ciocca's role in the events giving rise to the Eighth
Amendment claim, there is no recommendation with respect to
whether Ciocca is entitled to summary judgment on this claim.
explained by the Magistrate Judge, Cope's Eighth
Amendment Failure to Protect claim is premised on Cope's
"claims that, at the time of his cell transfer, he
advised defendants Officer Wintersteen, Officer Martin,
Officer Toluba, and Sergeant Kosakowski multiple times that
he had been threatened with physical harm by inmate
Sipes" and that "Unit Manager Ciocca should also be
held liable for failure to protect because Ciocca was
familiar with inmate Sipes and his assaultive history when he
assigned Cope to move into the same cell as Sipes."
(Doc. 68, at 18-19).
Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment protects prisoners against the 'unnecessary
and wanton infliction of pain'" and "impose[s]
a duty upon prison officials to take reasonable measures
'to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners."' Hamilton v. Leavy, 117 F.3d
742, 746 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994);
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319, 106 S.Ct.
1078, 89 L.Ed.2d 251 (1986)). A cause of action cannot lie
under the Eighth Amendment where a government official is
merely negligent in causing the injury. See Davidson v.
Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 347, 106 S.Ct. 668, 88 L.Ed.2d 677
(1986); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S.Ct.
285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976); see also, Freeman v.
Miller, 615 Fed.App'x. 72, 76 (3d Cir. 2015)
(finding that Plaintiff could not succeed on his Eighth
Amendment claim because "[t]he correctional officers
were, at most, negligent in failing to take more forceful
anticipatory action such as rehousing the inmates based on an
unlikely threat."). Rather, "[i]n order for a
plaintiff to prove a constitutional violation in a
failure-to-protect case, a claimant must demonstrate that:
(1) he is 'incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm;' and (2) the prison
officials acted with 'deliberate indifference to his
health and safety.'" Ogden v. Mifflin Cty.,
2008 WL 4601931, *3 (M.D. Pa. 2008) (citing Farmer,
511 U.S. at 834).
respect to the first prong of the inquiry - a substantial
risk of serious harm - the Court must conduct an objective
analysis. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834;
Hamilton, 117 F.3d at 746. Thus, the inquiry
ordinarily will not be satisfied by evidence of a single
incident or isolated incidents. See Riley v. Jeffes,
777 F.2d 143, 147 (3d Cir. 1985). An objectively substantial
risk of harm, however, may be "established by much less
than proof of a reign of violence and terror."
Id. (quoting Shraderv. White, 761 F.2d 975,
978 (4th Cir. 1985)).
second prong of a failure to protect case requires that
prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to the
prisoner's health and safety. In cases of prisoner
incarceration, Eighth Amendment liability attaches only to
the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain."
Wilson v. Seiter,501 U.S. 294, 298, 111 S.Ct. 2321,
115 L.Ed.2d 271 (1991) (quoting Whitley, 475 U.S. at
319). Thus, not only must a prisoner's conditions of
incarceration be sufficiently serious, but prison officials
must possess a "sufficiently culpable state of
mind" in allowing such a condition to persist.
Beers-Capital v. Whetzel,256 F.3d 120, 125 (3d Cir.
2001). Under this prong, the Court must analyze whether
prison officials were, from a subjective standpoint,
deliberately indifferent to an inmate's health or safety.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Specifically, the Court
must determine whether an official consciously knew of and
disregarded an excessive risk to the prisoner's
well-being. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839-44;
Hamilton, 117 F.3d at 747. It is not enough to show
that the prison official was "aware of the facts from
which the inference ...