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Franqui-Pagan v. Jackson

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 31, 2017




         Plaintiff Angel Franqui-Pagan (“Franqui-Pagan” or “Plaintiff”), a state inmate who, at all times relevant, was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Benner (“SCI-Benner”), Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, commenced this action on October 13, 2015. (Doc. 1). The sole defendant in the action is Sergeant John Jackson (“Jackson”).

         Presently pending is Jackson's motion (Doc. 48) for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a).[1] A brief (Doc. 49) in support of the motion, statement of material facts (Doc. 51), and supporting exhibits (Doc. 50) were filed on that same date. Franqui-Pagan failed to oppose the motion. An order issued directing Plaintiff to file both a brief in opposition to the motion and a statement of material facts specifically responding to Defendant's statement. (Doc. 63). He was cautioned that his failure to file a brief and statement of material facts would result in the motion being deemed unopposed and Defendant's statement of material facts being admitted. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 4). Franqui-Pagan has failed to file either an opposition brief or a statement of material facts. Consequently, the motion is deemed unopposed and Defendant's statement of material facts is deemed admitted.

         For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment will be deemed unopposed and granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Summary 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).

         The 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).

         II. Statement of Material Facts

         “A motion for summary judgment filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 shall be accompanied by a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts . . . as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried.” See L.R. 56.1. The opposing party shall file a separate statement of the material facts as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried. Id. “All material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement required to be served by the opposing party.” Id. Because Franqui-Pagan failed to oppose Defendant's statement of material facts, all facts contained therein are deemed admitted.

         On November 4, 2014, Franqui-Pagan was housed in a cell in the Secure Special Needs Unit (“SSNU”) at SCI-Benner because he was experiencing mental health issues for which he was taking psychological medications. (Doc. 51, ¶¶ 1, 3). He was housed in the same cell with Ronald Green (“Inmate Green” or “Green”), an inmate who had previously been diagnosed with paranoid-type schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and who was classified with a mental health stability rating of D, which “designates the most serious need for mental health services.” (Id. at ¶ 1). Inmate Green was suicidal and “liked to cut himself a lot.” (Id. at 2).

         Prior to November 4, 2014, Inmate Green had never harmed any other inmates and was not on razor restriction. (Id. at 14). Franqui-Pagan had been celled with Inmate Green since his arrival on the SSNU, approximately a month or a month and a half earlier. (Id. at 9). Inmate Green never threatened or attempted to hurt Franqui-Pagan. (Id. at 10). Nor had he attempted to harm himself, despite making statements indicating a desire to do so. (Id. at 11). When Green intimated that he may hurt himself, Franqui-Pagan would calm him down and convince him not to hurt himself. (Id. at 12). Franqui-Pagan never told any DOC staff member that he thought Green would hurt him and never reported to any staff member Green's threats to harm himself. (Id. at 13).

         On the evening of November 4, 2014, Franqui-Pagan was playing cards outside of his cell, when he saw an unidentified corrections officer stop in front of the cell he shared with Inmate Green. (Id. at 6). Inmate Green had cut himself several times with Franqui-Pagan's razor and was drawing on the walls with his blood. (Id. 4, 8). The unidentified corrections officer summoned Defendant Jackson, who was at the desk in the SSNU. (Id. at 7). Inmate Green was removed to a psychiatric observation cell (“POC”) and issued Other Report No. 574045, which “identified [him] as a danger to himself or others, ” and placed him in administrative custody. (Id. at 4).

         While Green was in the POC, Franqui-Pagan spoke with Defendant Jackson about the November 4, 2014 incident and requested that Green not be returned to the cell because he did not “want to be the cause of him cutting himself.” (Id. at 15). He did not “want to be [the] person in the cell with him if he's going to cut himself again.” (Id. at 16). Jackson advised him that cellmate decisions were not up to him. (Id. at 17).

         Green was released from the POC on November 6, 2014, and returned to the cell with Franqui-Pagan. (Id. at 18). Defendant Jackson was not working at the time. (Id. at 19). Three or four days after Green returned, Franqui-Pagan informed Jackson “I don't want this dude in my cell, because he had just cut himself with my razor. I don't want him to hurt himself. I don't want to feel like I'm the cause of him hurting himself or me as well. He just only did 24 hours of observation in that cell. I'm not sure what is up with him. I don't want him to hurt himself or hurt me.” (Id. at 20-22). Either Defendant Jackson or the unit manager advised him that they could not make any moves because SCI-Benner was in the process of transitioning the SSNU to a new unit. (Id. at 23). He never ...

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