United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani, United States District Judge
Carlos Zuniga, an inmate formerly confined at the Allenwood
Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania
("FCI-Allenwood"), commenced this
Bivens28 U.S.C. § 1331, civil rights action
on May 4, 2017. (Doc. 1). Named as Defendants are George
Chamberlin, Joe Lincalis, B. Sudul, Jim Lyons, S. Prutzman,
Steven Spaulding, and Kendahl Gainer. Presently pending
before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 18). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment.
Summary Judgment Standard of Review
party moves to dismiss, but where "matters outside the
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule
56." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Typically, when a court
converts a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary
judgment under Rule 56, notice must be given to all parties
of the court's intent to do so. Id.; Garcia v.
Newtown Twp., 2010 WL 785808, at *3 (E.D. Pa. 2010).
However, if a motion to dismiss has been filed with an
alternative request for summary judgment, the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals has found that the alternative filing is
sufficient to "place the parties on notice that summary
judgment might be entered." Latham v. United
States, 306 Fed.Appx. 716, 718 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing
Hilfirty v. Shipman, 91 F.3d 573, 578-79 (3d Cir.
1996)). Accordingly, the Court will treat Defendants'
filing as a motion for summary judgment.
summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims
that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any
material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to
materiality, ... [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
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, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once such a showing has
been made, the non-moving party must offer specific facts
contradicting those averred by the movant to establish a
genuine issue of material fact. Lujan v. Nat'l
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). Therefore,
the non-moving party may not oppose summary judgment simply
on the basis of the pleadings, or on conclusory statements
that a factual issue exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248. "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is
genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to
particular parts of materials in the record ... or showing
that the materials cited do not establish the absence or
presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party
cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). In evaluating whether summary
judgment should be granted, "[t]he court need consider
only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials
in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "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 N.
Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.1992),
cert, denied507 U.S. 912 (1993).
"facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute
as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S.
372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). If a
party has carried its burden under the summary judgment rule,
its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Where the record
taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for
trial. 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. When
opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is
blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable
jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version
of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary
Id. (internal quotations, citations, and alterations
Bivens action is the federal counterpart to an
action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Paton v.
LaPrade, 524 F.2d 82 (3d Cir.1975); Farmer v.
Carlson, 685 F.Supp. 1335, 1338 (M.D. Pa. 1988). Section
1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private
citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by
state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress. . . .
Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273,
284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204
(3d Cir. 1996). To state a claim under § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege "the violation of a right secured
by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must
show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person
acting under color of state law." West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Allegations of the Complaint
alleges that beginning on September 20, 2014, while confined
at FCI-Allenwood, Paisa gang members harassed him and
subjected him to extortion because he refused to collect
gambling debts from other inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 11). On
January 22, 2015, Zuniga allegedly reported his problems with
the Paisa inmates to Defendants Chamberlin and Lincalis.
(Id.). Chamberlin and Lincalis informed Zuniga that
they would investigate the matter. (Id. at p. 12).
Zuniga alleges that Defendants Chamberlain and Lincalis
failed to report or document his January 22, 2015 complaints.
(Id. at p. 14). He further claims that Defendants
Chamberlin and Lincalis disclosed that confidential
information to other inmates. (Id.). As a result,
Zuniga alleges that he was threatened, harassed, and
humiliated, forced to pay increased extortion fees, and
ultimately assaulted by two Paisa inmates on May 14, 2015.
(Id. at pp. 12-13).
claims that while in recreation on May 25, 2015, Paisa
inmates threatened to kill him if he did not transfer to
another institution. (Id. at pp. 13-15). As a result
of these death threats, Zuniga reported to the
lieutenant's office and requested protection.
(Id. at p. 15). The staff member to whom he reported
the threats ordered him to return to his housing unit.
(Id.). Zuniga refused to return to his housing unit
and received an incident report for refusing to obey an
order. (Id.). Zuniga was then placed in the Special
Housing Unit ("SHU") for his protection.
1, 2015, Zuniga underwent an x-ray which revealed that he
suffered injuries to his ribs and right shoulder.
(Id. at p. 15).
alleges that between May 25 and November 12, 2015, Defendants
Lyons, Prutzman, and unnamed staff members observed injuries
he sustained in the May 14, 2015 assault, but failed to
document the assault. (Id. at pp. 15-17). On
November 24, 2015, Zuniga claims that he sent a letter to
Warden Spaulding, but did not receive a response and the
Warden did not report his complaints or discipline the
inmates who assaulted him. (/of. at p. 17).
November 12, 2015, Zuniga allegedly asked Defendants Gainer
and Prutzman about a transfer to another institution.
[Id. at p. 18). Defendant Gainer allegedly informed
Zuniga that he was not going anywhere and he was staying in
the SHU. [Id.). Zuniga claims that he was subjected
to "hard time" in the SHU in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. [Id. at p. 18).
about January 3, 2016, Zuniga was designated for transfer to
a different institution as a safety/security concern.
alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by
placing him at risk of harm by failing to report his
complaints and failing to take action against the Paisa
inmates, subjecting him to unlawful conditions of confinement
by placing him in the SHU for seven months, and refusing his
request for a transfer to a different institution.
[Id. at pp. 20-22).
also asserts a retaliation claim against unnamed staff
members in the Northeast Regional Office and the Central
Office based on the rejection of his administrative remedies.
(Id. at pp. 3-8, 19).
relief, Zuniga requests damages in the total amount of $2,
000, 000.00. (Id. at 23).
Statement of ...