United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Paradise Baxter United States Magistrate Judge.
a state inmate incarcerated at SCI Cambridge Springs,
initiated this civil rights action through counsel on June
21, 2016. As Defendants to this action, Plaintiff named: John
Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections; Joanne Torma, Superintendent of SCI Cambridge
Springs; Joyce Wilkes, the former Superintendent of SCI
Cambridge Springs; and Corrections Officers Keith Mayo and
Brian Shank of SCI Cambridge Springs. This action arises out
of a sexual assault that Plaintiff suffered at the hands of
Correctional Officer Mayo during her incarceration at
SCI-Cambridge Springs and the physical and emotional trauma
that she endured as a result of the failure of administration
at the Department of Corrections and the SCI-Cambridge
Springs to protect her from the assault and during its
aftermath. At Count I, Plaintiff advances an Eighth Amendment
claim against all five Defendants. Counts II and III are
state law claims for battery and intentional infliction of
emotional distress against Defendant Mayo. ECF No. 1.
Shank, Torma, Wetzel and Wilkes have filed a motion for
partial summary judgment [ECF No. 26] based solely upon
Plaintiff's failure to exhaust her administrative
remedies. Plaintiff has filed a brief in opposition [ECF No.
56] and Defendants have filed a reply brief [ECF No. 58].
This motion is fully briefed and is ripe for disposition by
Allegations of the Complaint
September 19, 2014, Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by
Defendant Mayo, a corrections officer at SCI Cambridge
Springs. ECF No. 1, ¶ ¶ 28-44. Shortly after the
assault, Plaintiff reported it to Officer Hamilton and in
turn the assault was reported to the Office of Special
Investigation and Intelligence (“OSII”).
Id. at ¶ ¶ 47-48. As of the date of the
filing of this civil action, Plaintiff had not been provided
with any information regarding the result of the
investigation by the OSII. Id. at ¶ ¶
49-50. Defendant Mayo continues to work at SCI Cambridge
Springs and has direct contact with female inmates including
Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ ¶ 54-60.
alleges that on several occasions prior to the September
19th assault, Defendant Mayo engaged in
inappropriate sexual touching of Plaintiff's breasts and
buttocks. Id. at ¶ 21. Defendant Mayo also
inappropriately touched other inmates. Id. at ¶
22. Defendant Shank witnessed Defendant Mayo's actions
against Plaintiff and other inmates and failed to take any
actions to report or prevent such abuse. Id. at
¶ 25. At least one other Department of Corrections
employee witnessed and reported Defendant Mayo's
inappropriate conduct to SCI Cambridge Springs officials.
Id. at ¶ 26. Despite this report of sexual
abuse, Defendant Wilkes, the Superintendent at the time, took
no action to terminate or reprimand Defendant Mayo or prevent
further contact between him and female inmates. Id.
at ¶ 27. Plaintiff alleges that Wetzel, Torma, Wilkes,
and Shank “were aware from previous complaints and
previous observations that Defendant Mayo had committed acts
of sexual abuse and harassment against Ms. Sarvey and other
inmates.” Id. at ¶ 104.
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.” When applying
this standard, the court must examine the factual record and
reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable
to the party opposing summary judgment. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
moving party has the initial burden of proving to the
district court the absence of evidence supporting the
non-moving party's claims. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Andreoli v.
Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir. 2007); UPMC Health
System v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 391 F.3d 497, 502
(3d Cir. 2004). The burden then shifts to the non-movant to
come forward with specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Williams v. Borough of West
Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 460-461 (3d Cir. 1989) (the
non-movant must present affirmative evidence - more than a
scintilla but less than a preponderance -which supports each
element of his claim to defeat a properly presented motion
for summary judgment). 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. See also Saldana v.
Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001).
As to a
motion for summary judgment on the Prison Litigation Reform
Act's failure to exhaust defense, a sister court within
the Middle District has concisely summarized the shifting
burdens of proof:
Failure to exhaust available administrative remedies is an
affirmative defense that must be pleaded and proven by the
defendant. But once the defendant has carried that burden,
the prisoner has the burden of production. That is, the
burden shifts to the prisoner to come forward with evidence
showing that there is something in his particular case that
made the existing and generally available administrative
remedies effectively unavailable to him. However, as required
by the Supreme Court, the ultimate burden of proof remains
with the defendant.
Njos v. Argueta, 2017 WL 1304301, at *2 (M.D. Pa.
Feb.23, 2017) (internal citation omitted).
Exhaustion Requirement of the Prison ...