United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
PARIS L. JAMES, Plaintiff,
DAVID VARANO, et al., Defendants
KANE, DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
se Plaintiff Paris L. James (“James”),
initiated the above-captioned action on October 8, 2014 by
filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
numerous employees of the Department of Corrections
(“DOC”), at the State Correctional Institution at
Coal Township, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Coal
Township”). (Doc. No. 1.) On March 23, 2015, James
filed an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 28.) James claims that
he was denied adequate medical care, subjected to substandard
conditions of confinement, subjected to excessive force, and
retaliated against for complaining about the quality of his
medical treatment, the conditions of his confinement, and the
excessive force inflicted upon him. (Id.) James
further alleges that the Medical Defendants failed to provide
him with adequate medical treatment for breathing
difficulties. (Id.) He also claims that the Medical
Defendants conspired with other Defendants to deprive
Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”), inmates of
proper intake examinations and access to healthcare, and
intentionally refused them medical care in order to reduce
transportation costs from the RHU. (Id.)
all Defendants filed motions to dismiss the amended
complaint. (Doc. Nos. 30, 31.) By Memorandum and Order dated
August 31, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part
Defendants' motions to dismiss. (Doc. Nos. 55, 56.) The
Court dismissed James' conspiracy claims, equal
protection claims, and claims as to the condition of
confinement, but permitted the Eighth Amendment claims of
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need to proceed.
(Id.) The Court also dismissed James' verbal
harassment, retaliation, and conspiracy claims, with the
exception of those pertaining to Defendants Mosier, Tripp,
and Else, and dismissed James' condition of confinement
claim, as well as the medical care claims asserted against
Defendants Varano and McCarthy on the basis of lack of
personal involvement. (Id.) Accordingly, the
remaining claims against the Correction Defendants are a
claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need
against Mains, Schmerfeld, Alleman, Romedy, Segedy, Masser,
Baker, Schoch, Krzykowski, Rodriguez, Burrows, Novailis,
Kratz, Hyde, and Goodwin and a claim based on retaliation,
verbal harassment, and conspiracy against Moser, Tripp, and
Else. The remaining claim against the Medical Defendants
pertains to a deliberate indifference to a serious medical
the close of discovery, the Medical Defendants and the
Corrections Defendants filed motions for summary judgment
(Doc. Nos. 103, 113), along with statements of material facts
(Doc. Nos. 104, 115), and supporting briefs (Doc. Nos. 105,
114). In response to the Medical Defendants' summary
judgment filings, James filed a motion in opposition (Doc.
No. 110), declaration in opposition (Doc. No. 110-1), and
counterstatement of material facts (Doc. No. 111). The
Medical Defendants filed a reply brief (Doc. No. 117), to
which James filed an unauthorized sur-reply brief (Doc. No.
123), which was stricken from the record in the Court's
December 12, 2017 Order (Doc. No. 131).
response to the Corrections Defendants' summary judgment
filings, James filed a motion in opposition (Doc. No. 118), a
counterstatement of material facts (Doc. No. 119), and a
brief in support of his counterstatement of facts (Doc. No.
120). The Corrections Defendants subsequently filed a reply
brief (Doc. No. 128), to which James filed an authorized
sur-reply (Doc. No. 132), and also an “amended response
in opposition” to the Corrections Defendants'
statement of material facts (Doc. No. 133). The Corrections
Defendants then filed a reply brief to James' amended
response. (Doc. No. 134.) On January 22, 2018, James filed a
motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 135), and a motion to
file a limited sur-reply brief to the Corrections
Defendants' reply brief (Doc. No. 138). Presently, the
Medical and Corrections Defendants' motions for summary
judgment, and James' motion to appoint counsel and motion
to file a limited sure-reply brief are ripe for disposition.
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).
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 Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners of
Am., 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).
determining whether there is a genuine issue of material
fact, the court must view the facts and all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Moore v.
Tartler, 986 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1993); Clement v.
Consolidated Rail Corp., 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d Cir.
1992); White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56,
59 (3d Cir. 1988). In order to avoid summary judgment,
however, the nonmoving party may not rest on the
unsubstantiated allegations of his or her pleadings. When the
party seeking summary judgment satisfies its burden under
Rule 56 of identifying evidence which demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving
party is required by Rule 56 to go beyond his pleadings with
affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the
like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which
give rise to a genuine issue. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The party opposing
the motion “must do more than simply show that there is
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475
U.S. 574, 586 (1986). When Rule 56 shifts the burden of
production to the nonmoving party, that party must produce
evidence to show the existence of every element essential to
its case which it bears the burden of proving at trial, for
“a complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders
all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 323. See Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846,
851 (3d Cir. 1992).
determining whether an issue of material fact exists, the
court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. White, 862 F.2d at 59. 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, Civ. No. 09-1384, 2010 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS, *15 (M.D. Pa. July 20, 2010) (stating that
pro se parties “are not excused from complying
with court orders and the local rules of court”);
Thomas v. Norris, Civ. No. 02-01854, 2006 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 64347, at *11 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 8, 2006) (explaining that
pro se parties must follow the Federal Rules of
James' Motion to File a Limited Sur-Reply Brief
requests permission to file a second sur-reply brief to the
Corrections Defendants' reply brief to address a limited
argument raised by the Corrections Defendants pertaining to
the retaliation claim against Defendants Moser, Tripp, and
Else. (Doc. No. 138 at 1.) The decision to “grant or
deny leave to file a sur[-]reply is committed to the sound
discretion of the court.” Akers v. Beal Bank,
760 F.Supp.2d 1 (D.D.C. 2011). Here, Corrections
Defendants' motion for summary judgment has already been
fully briefed by both parties, and the Court has already
permitted sur-reply briefs to be filed. The issue which James
seeks to address has already been fully addressed.
Accordingly, in the Court's sound exercise of discretion,
it will deny James' motion to file a limited sur-reply
The Medical Defendants' Motion for Summary
Allegations Set Forth in the Amended Complaint
allegations against the Medical Defendants pertain to events
beginning with his transfer to SCI-Coal Township from
SCI-Forest on October 11, 2012. (Doc. No. 28 at 7, 22.) James
alleges that he was seen by Physician Assistant Daya on
October 12, 2012, and informed Daya that prior to his arrival
at SCI-Coal Township, he received 10-bags of intravenous
fluid at SCI-Forest. (Id. ¶ 157.) James
complained to Daya that he is asthmatic, had been unable to
eat or drink food or fluids for multiple days, had a racing
heart, and was losing a great deal of weight. (Id.)
James alleges that while Daya ordered medical testing, she
failed to order it “without delay, ” which
prolonged the time spent waiting for the results, and that
Daya took no other reasonable steps or action to provide him
with medical treatment. (Id. ¶¶ 159, 161.)
also alleges that on October 17, 2012, he was found on the
floor of his cell by Physician Assistant Davis. (Id.
¶ 184.) James alleges that he informed Davis that he had
been without his asthma inhaler and that he could not
breathe. (Id.) He alleges that he requested that
Davis provide him with his asthma inhaler and treat his
heart, chest, and other medical symptoms. (Id.
¶ 185.) Additionally, James avers that Davis informed
him that he was present only to conduct the “asthma
clinic, ” and that any other medical complaints would
need to be addressed through a sick-call. (Id.
October 18, 2012, James alleges that he was brought before
the Program Review Committee (“PRC”), to review
his administrative custody status. (Id. ¶ 188.)
James maintains that the members of the PRC recognized that
he was in need of medical care, as he was so weak that he had
to be seated in a chair and was incapable of speaking.
(Id. ¶¶ 189, 190.) James alleges that the
medical department was called and that he was taken to the
hospital, where he received breathing treatment, blood
testing, and steroids. (Id. ¶¶ 192 - 94.)
James avers that only after testing was performed at the
hospital was it discovered that he was suffering from an
overactive or hyperactive thyroid gland and was given an
asthma inhaler upon returning to the prison. (Id.
¶ 196.) James claims that the Medical Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.
Statement of Undisputed Facts
was received at SCI-Coal Township from SCI-Forest on October
11, 2012. (Doc. No. 104 ¶ 5.) He was seen and examined
by Daya on October 12, 2012. (Id. ¶ 6.) Daya
reviewed James' medical records and ordered lab testing
and further monitoring of his symptoms and conditions.
(Id. ¶¶ 7-10.) On October 26, 2012, the
lab performing James' testing issued a “Final
Report” to Daya. (Id. ¶ 11.)
October 17, 2012, James was seen by Davis, who conducted an
asthma chronic care clinic on him. (Id. ¶¶
12-13.) Davis ordered an asthma inhaler for James, as well as
a chest x-ray. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Davis then
reviewed the chest x-ray report on October 24, 2012.
(Id. ¶ 16.)
James' Claim of Deliberate Indifference to a Serious
Medical NeedUn ...