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Moore v. Giorla

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 28, 2018

TROY LAMONT MOORE, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
LOUIS GIORLA, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.

         Plaintiff, a Pennsylvania state prisoner, filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials. He alleges that the toilet in his cell violently overflowed, covering him with raw sewage, and that he was not permitted to leave his cell or clean himself off for approximately eight hours.

         Plaintiff and the sole remaining Defendant have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion and deny Plaintiff's motion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

         Plaintiff Troy Lamont Moore, Sr. was imprisoned at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (“PICC”). He alleges that on September 16, 2013, while at PICC, the toilet in his cell overflowed repeatedly - and despite Plaintiff's requests, Correctional Officer Walton did not let Plaintiff out of that cell for at least eight hours, leaving him surrounded by raw sewage during that time. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 46.

         On June 26, 2014, after exhausting his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Philadelphia Prison Commissioner Louis Giorla, Major Claudette Martin, Nurse McGrogan, and another unnamed nurse under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 3. Plaintiff also named Correctional Officer “Walden” in the initial Complaint. However, as Plaintiff later learned, he should have named Officer “Walton” instead.[2]

         After filing answers and conducting discovery, all defendants (except “Walden, ” who had not yet been served) filed motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 21, 24, 38. In a memorandum opinion, the Court granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment because they lacked personal involvement. ECF No. 42. The Court also dismissed the claims against a person identified as “Walden” without prejudice, considering that PICC had been unable to identify her, and that she had not been served. Id.

         Plaintiff repeatedly attempted to serve “Walden, ” but the summons were returned to Plaintiff unexecuted, with notations that PICC could not identify her. See ECF Nos. 6, 48, 52, 54, 56. Eventually, after the U.S. Marshals were unable to contact or find “Walden” to effectuate service, they contacted PICC's human resources department, which furnished the Marshals with the correct spelling. Tr. of July 24, 2017 Hearing at 12:17-20. Thereby, Walden was identified as Officer Walton. See Id. at 12-13.

         Then, on February 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint against “S. Walton, ” alleging that Walton had ignored Plaintiff's requests to remove him from his cell after he was exposed to raw sewage coming from an overflowing toilet in his cell. ECF No. 46. On December 19, 2016, the Court ordered that the caption be amended to replace “S. Walton” with “Saajida Walton.” ECF Doc. 52. On May 2, 2017, Plaintiff served Saajida Walton with a copy of the Amended Complaint. ECF Doc. 57.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by ‘the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact.” Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         The Court will view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. “After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.” Pignataro v. Port Auth., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the nonmoving party who must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         The guidelines governing summary judgment are identical when addressing cross-motions for summary judgment. See Lawrence v. City of Phila., 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d Cir. 2008). When confronted with cross-motions for summary judgment, “[t]he court must rule on each party's motion on an individual and separate basis, determining, for each side, whether a judgment may be entered in accordance with the Rule 56 standard.” Schlegel v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 269 F.Supp.2d 612, 615 n.1 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting 10A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2720 (3d ed. 1998)).

         III. ...


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