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Boulware v. Deputy Overmyer

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 6, 2017

DEPUTY OVERMYER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1" name="FN1" id="FN1">1]


         Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for sanctions, seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's action with prejudice or, alternatively, the imposition of attorneys' fees incurred in the preparation of the motion and in response to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. [ECF No. 72, p. 13]. Defendants contend that such consequences are warranted based upon Plaintiff's commission of a fraud upon the Court, through his submission of manufactured and forged evidence in opposition to a pending motion.

         As more fully set forth herein, the Court agrees that Plaintiff has abused the judicial process in an effort to harass Defendants and to fraudulently extract monetary damages in pursuit of questionable claims. Therefore, in accordance with Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, Plaintiff's action shall be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Background and Relevant Procedural History

         Kenneth Boulware (“Plaintiff”) initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by filing a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, accompanied by his complaint. [ECF No. 1] At the time of filing suit, Plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania (“SCI - Forest”). Named as Defendants in his complaint are: Deputy Overmyer (“Overmyer”), Deputy Oberlander (“Oberlander”), Major Ennis (“Ennis”), Lt. Haggerty (“Haggerty”), Lt. Davis (“Davis”), Lt. Dickey (“Dickey”), Lt. Murin (“Murin”), Sgt. Cochran (“Cochran”), Sgt. Anthony (“Anthony”), C.O. Mullooly (“Mullooly”), C.O. Drayer (“Drayer”), Dr. Simons (“Simons”), Nurse Hill (“Hill”), and C.O. Baumcratz (“Baumcratz”).[2] [ECF No. 3].

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges several Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claims and a separate Fourteenth Amendment due process claim arising from the theft of a television. Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim was dismissed for failure to state a claim by Order entered March 7, 2017, due to the availability of a post-deprivation remedy. [ECF No. 52]. Accordingly, the following claims remain:

(1) an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendants Drayer, Mullooly, Cochran, Buamcratz, and Murin, arising from a November 11, 2015, incident when his hand was allegedly pulled through a cell-door wicket;
(2) an Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim, alleging that Defendants failed to prevent him from being raped by his cellmate on November 18, 2015, after he says he informed Defendants Oberlander, Anthony and Ennis that he had received threats from other inmates indicating an attack was imminent;
(3) an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference against Defendants Simons and Hill, related to inadequate medical and psychological care; and,
(4) an Eighth Amendment and/or First Amendment claim related to the denial of several showers and meals, as well as harassment by DOC personnel, in retaliation for filing grievances.

         Upon the conclusion of discovery, Defendants filed their summary judgment motion, requesting the entry of judgment in their favor as matter of law. [ECF No. 58]. Defendants contend that Plaintiff failed to appeal the initial denial of any grievance and, accordingly, he has failed to properly and completely exhaust his claims, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). In addition, Defendants indicate that certain Defendants and claims were not identified by Plaintiff in any grievance and, therefore, have not been exhausted. Finally, based upon the uncontradicted evidence of record, Defendants argue that Plaintiff cannot establish the existence of required elements of his failure to protect claim. [ECF No. 58, 61].

         Plaintiff has filed a motion for summary judgment, primarily serving as his response to Defendants' pending motion, and has attached as exhibits thereto copies of documents purporting to evidence that he completely and properly exhausted each of his claims through the prison grievance process. [ECF Nos. 64, 65]. In addition, as to his failure to protect claim, Plaintiff provides documents which purport to establish Defendants' deliberate indifference to an identifiable risk of a potential inmate assault.

         Defendants, in turn, have filed their response to Plaintiff's motion, and assert that many of Plaintiff's exhibits in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment are fabricated or forged. Defendants argue that the manufactured documents should not impact the dispositive effect of Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies or to otherwise establish issues of fact with regard to any of his claims. [ECF Nos. 68, 72].

         Defendants further move for the imposition of sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's exhibits are designed to harass and needlessly prolong and complicate the case, and otherwise perpetrate a fraud upon the Court and judicial process. [ECF 72, p13');">p. 13 - 15]. Defendants seek dismissal of the pending action or, alternatively, an award of reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $4812.50, determined by the prevailing hourly rate, for the time and expense incurred to “ferret out and address some of the forgeries and altered, fraudulent documents” Plaintiff has filed with the Court. [ECF No. 72, pp. 14-15].

         In response to the motion for sanctions, Plaintiff has filed a “Motion to Strike and to Move Forward from Summary Judgment.” Plaintiff contends that it is Defendants who have fabricated evidence to avoid liability for their conduct, and that “all of [his] documents are true and correct.” [ECF No. 70, p. 2]. Plaintiff's motion to strike was denied on August 31, 2017, leaving Defendants' motion for sanctions, as well as cross motions for summary judgment to be resolved. [ECF No. 71].

         In support of their entitlement to sanctions, Defendants indicate that, in large part, the 135 pages of exhibits submitted by Plaintiff in response to their motion for summary judgment have been fabricated or contain post-hoc falsifications or forgeries. These fabrications include fake ...

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