United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
CYNTHIA REED EDDY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
defendant Steve Buzas (“Defendant” or
“Buzas”) with a brief in support (ECF Nos. 46 and
49). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 61).
For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion will be
initiated this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that his First, Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights were violated when he was an inmate
incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution
(“SCI”) at Fayette. According to Plaintiff, his
claims arise out of an incident involving a “fight
club, ” which purportedly was conducted by prison staff
members in the restricted housing unit. (ECF No. 13, ¶
7). Plaintiff alleges that the staff members arranged fights
between inmates by placing them in secluded areas and
allowing them to fight. Id. ¶¶ 9-10.
Plaintiff further alleges that prison staff members wagered
money on which inmate would win the fight, but the inmates
were not paid for their participation. Id.
¶¶ 11-13. However, an inmate who won a fight might
receive certain “gifts, ” such as cigarettes,
single cell status or transfer to an institution located
closer to the inmate's home. Id. ¶ 14.
alleges that Buzas, who was a Unit Manager in two restricted
housing units at SCI Fayette, recruited him to participate in
a fight club and offered him cigarettes, single cell status
and a transfer to another institution if he agreed to do so.
(ECF No. 13, ¶¶ 3, 17-18, 20). Plaintiff claims
that he refused to participate, but another inmate initiated
a fight with him on November 22, 2015, and Plaintiff
allegedly fought in self-defense. Id. ¶¶
18, 21-25. Following the fight, Plaintiff received a
misconduct violation, which he claims was issued as a pretext
to cover up the fact that Buzas arranged the fight.
Id. ¶¶ 26-27.
alleges that Buzas subsequently told him that he had taken
the fight too far because the other inmate had to be admitted
to an outside hospital. (ECF No. 13, ¶ 29). Buzas
purportedly told Plaintiff that he would not get single cell
status and that he should not say anything about the
situation. Id. ¶ 30. Plaintiff alleges that he
received 180 days of disciplinary custody time for the
incident and that staff members issued him continuing conduct
violations because of the incident. Id. ¶ 33.
claims that Buzas violated his Eighth Amendment rights
because he placed Plaintiff's future safety and physical
and mental health and well-being in danger. (ECF No. 13,
¶ 35). Plaintiff also claims that Buzas violated his
First Amendment right to be free from
retaliation.Id. Plaintiff seeks declaratory
relief and an award of compensatory and punitive damages.
Id. ¶ 36. Buzas has moved for summary judgment,
arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies. (ECF Nos. 46, 47, 48 and 49).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
shall be granted “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.” The moving
party bears the initial burden of proving the absence of
evidence supporting the non-moving party's claims.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986);
UPMC Health Sys. v. Metropolitan Live Ins. Co., 391
F.3d 497, 502 (3d Cir. 2004).
that burden has been met, the non-moving party must set forth
“specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). To make
that showing, the non-moving party must go beyond the
pleadings and show specific facts by affidavit or by
information contained in the filed documents (i.e.,
depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions) to
meet his burden of proving elements essential to his claim.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Saldana v. Kmart
Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). The non-movant
may not rely on “bare assertions, conclusory
allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine
issue.” Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409
F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Celotex, 477
U.S. at 325)).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court is not
permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility
determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are
any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both
genuine and material. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). In addition, the Court
must consider the evidence, and all reasonable inferences
which may be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.
Finally, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court
will liberally construe his filings and employ less stringent
standards than when judging the work product of an attorney.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
itself, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not create any rights, but
rather provides a remedy for violations of those rights
created by the Constitution or federal law. Baker v.
McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979). Here, Plaintiff
claims that his First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights
were violated as a result of an incident involving an alleged
fight club when he was incarcerated at SCI Fayette.
See ECF No. 13 at 2, ¶ III. Defendant argues
that summary judgment should be ...