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Pinson v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 7, 2017

JEREMY V. PINSON, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Jeremy Pinson, an inmate currently confined at the Federal Medical Center, Rochester, Minnesota (“FMC-Rochester”), filed this current action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) on April 3, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint on May 1, 2017. (Doc. No. 11.) Plaintiff asserts that she is a male to female transgender inmate and that Defendants, inter alia, wrongly denied her request for sex reassignment surgery and were negligent when they left a razor blade with her knowing that her gender dysphoria led her to cut and self-mutilate herself.

         Presently before this Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 20), filed on July 18, 2017. In response to Defendants' motion, Plaintiff filed a Fed.R.Civ.P 56(d) motion and declaration, requesting a stay of the due date for Plaintiff's brief in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment until additional discovery is obtained. (Doc. No. 33.) Plaintiff has also filed a motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 36) and motion for a preliminary injunction. (Doc. No. 38.) For the following reasons, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Plaintiff's request for a stay of the due date for Plaintiff's opposition brief, and deny Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel and motion for a preliminary injunction.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) requires the court to render summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[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).

         A disputed fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; 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).

         In determining whether an issue of material fact exists, the court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). In doing so, the Court must accept the nonmovant's allegations as true and resolve any conflicts in his favor. Id. (citations omitted). However, a party opposing a summary judgment motion must comply with Local Rule 56.1, which specifically directs the oppositional party to submit a “statement of the material facts, responding to the numbered paragraphs set forth in the statement required [to be filed by the movant], as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried”; if the nonmovant fails to do so, “[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted.” L.R. 56.1. A party cannot evade these litigation responsibilities in this regard simply by citing the fact that he is a pro se litigant. These rules apply with equal force to all parties. See Sanders v. Beard, No. 09-CV-1384, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS, *15 (M.D. Pa. July 20, 2010) (pro se parties “are not excused from complying with court orders and the local rules of court”)

         If a party believes that a summary judgment motion is premature and more discovery is necessary, Rule 56(d) allows a nonmovant to file an affidavit “setting forth why the time is needed.” Pastore v. Bell Tel. Co. of Pa., 24 F.3d 508, 510-11 (3d Cir. 1994). “The purpose of the affidavit is to ensure that the nonmoving party is invoking the protection of [Rule 56(d)] in good faith and to afford the trial court the showing necessary to assess the merit of a party's opposition.” Radich v. Goode, 886 F.2d 1391, 1394 (3d. Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). If the nonmovant shows by affidavit that he cannot present facts essential to justify his opposition to summary judgment, the court may, inter alia, defer considering the summary judgment motion or allow the nonmovant time to obtain affidavits or take discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d).

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) provides:

If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may:
(1) defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or
(3) issue any other appropriate order.

         In the declaration, a party must specify: (1) what particular information is sought; (2) how, if uncovered, it would preclude summary judgment; and (3) why it has not previously been obtained. Pa. Dep't of Pub. Welfare v. Sebelius, 674 F.3d 139, 157 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Dowling v. City of Phila., 855 F.2d 136, 139-40 (3d Cir. 1988)). If a party opposing summary judgment files an affidavit that specifically addresses these requirements, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that “a continuance of a motion for summary judgment for purposes of discovery should be granted almost as a matter of course, ” especially when particular information is in the sole possession of the moving party. Malouf v. Turner, 814 F.Supp.2d 454, 459-60 (D.N.J 2011) (quoting Sames v. Gable, 732 F.2d 49, 51 (3d Cir. 1984)).

         II. ...


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