United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY, JUDGE
José Batista (“Batista” or
“Plaintiff”), an inmate at the Huntingdon State
Correctional Institution (“SCI-Huntingdon”), in
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action
alleging that Sergeant (“Sgt.”) K. Williams
violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights by denying him
access to physician prescribed medical care and then issuing
him a misconduct in retaliation for his filing of a
grievance. (Doc. 1, Compl.) He also claims Superintendent
(“Supt.”) J.A. Eckard and Unit Manager
(“UM”) K. Granlund violated his Eighth Amendment
rights by failing to investigate his grievance concerning
Sgt. Williams' interference with his medical care.
before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary
judgment, as well as their statement of material facts,
supporting brief and exhibits. (Docs. 97 - 99). Plaintiff
filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion for
summary judgment and supporting exhibits. (Doc. 102).
Defendants did not file a reply brief. Accordingly, this
matter is ripe for disposition.
reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
September 11, 2016, José Batista filed the present
action alleging Defendants' deliberate indifference to
his medical needs and Sgt. William's issuance of a
retaliatory misconduct. (Doc. 1, Compl.) Batista named two
groups of Defendants, each represented by separate counsel.
The first group, the Medical Defendants, consisted of
contract medical providers employed at SCI-Huntingdon (Dr.
Kollman, Physician Assistant (PA) McConnell and PA Gomes).
The second group is comprised of the moving Defendants who
are employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
(DOC) working at SCI-Huntingdon (Supt. Eckard, UM Granlund
and Sgt. Williams). The Court will refer to this group as the
January 27, 2016, the Medical Defendants moved to dismiss all
Eighth Amendment claims against them based on Batista's
failure to exhaust his available administrative remedies.
(Doc. 47, Med. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss). February 5, 2016,
the DOC Defendants filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses
to the Complaint. (Doc. 51, Answer).
August 30, 2016, the Honorable William W. Caldwell granted
the Medical Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 84,
Order). Following the close of discovery, the DOC Defendants
filed their motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 97, DOC
Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J.).
Summary Judgment Standard of Review
judgment is proper where “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). “To prevail on a motion for summary
judgment, the moving party must demonstrate that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Pearson
v. Prison Health Serv., 850 F.3d 526, 533 (3d Cir.
2017). “[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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509 - 10,
91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
genuine issue is present when a reasonable trier of fact,
viewing all of the record evidence, could rationally find in
favor of the non-moving party in light of his burden of
proof.” Doe v. Abington Friends Sch., 480 F.3d
252, 256 (3d Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted). A fact
is “material” if it might affect the outcome of
the suit under the applicable law. Scheidemantle v.
Slippery Rock Univ. State Sys. of Higher Educ., 470 F.3d
535, 538 (3d Cir. 2006). Where contradictory facts exist, the
court may not engage in credibility determinations or weigh
the evidence, all facts and reasonable inferences are viewed
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Pearson, 850 F.3d at 533 - 34.
prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must
affirmatively identify those portions of the record that
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Santini v. Fuentes, 795 F.3d 410 (3d Cir. 2015)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). “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). To withstand summary judgment, the non-moving party
must “go beyond the pleadings” and
“designate ‘specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.'” Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553 (citation omitted); see
also Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d
Cir. 2000). The non-moving party cannot rest on speculation
and conjecture when opposing a motion for summary judgment.
In re Wellbutrin SL Antitrust Litigation Indirect
Purchaser Class, 868 F.3d 132, 167 (3d Cir. 2017). As
such, the non-moving party cannot satisfy the summary
judgment burden with an affidavit or declaration that sets
forth opinions or conclusions rather than supported facts.
Gonzalez v. Sec'y. of Dept. of Homeland Sec.,
678 F.3d 254, 263 (3d Cir. 2012). Unsubstantiated arguments
made in briefs are not evidence considered by the court.
Versarge v. Township of Clinton, 984 F.2d 1359, 1370
(3d Cir. 1993).
deciding the merits of a party's motion for summary
judgment, the Court's role is not to evaluate the
evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but to determine
whether there is a genuine issue for trial.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2511.
Credibility determinations are the province of the
factfinder. Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am.,
Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).
Statement of Undisputed Material Facts
was housed at SCI-Huntingdon at all times relevant to this
action. (Doc. 98, Defs.' Statement of Material Facts
(“DSMF”), ¶ 5). James Eckard, now retired,
was the Superintendent of SCI-Huntingdon at all times
relevant to this lawsuit. (DSMF ¶ 2). Kurt Granlund, now
retired, was a Unit Manager at SCI-Huntingdon at all times
relevant to this lawsuit. (DSMF ¶ 3). Kerry Williams was
a Sergeant at SCI-Huntingdon at all times relevant to this
action. (DSMF ¶4).
June 16 - 17, 2015, Day 1 & 2 of Treatment
16, 2015, a SCI-Huntingdon physician prescribed Batista
breathing treatments for his Bronchitis. The physician
directed that Batista receive four breathing treatments a day
(7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.) for one
week. (DSMF ¶¶ ...