Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Allen v. Eckard

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 8, 2018

ANTHONY ALLEN, Plaintiff
v.
J.A. ECKARD, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Commonwealth Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. No. 20), and Plaintiff Anthony Allen's motion for relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3) (Doc. No. 38). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the Commonwealth Defendants' motion and deem Plaintiff's motion withdrawn.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, an inmate currently confined at the State Correctional Institution - Pine Grove, Indiana, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Pine Grove”), filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on June 8, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) On October 2, 2017, the Commonwealth Defendants filed an answer to the complaint and affirmative defenses. (Doc. No. 19.) Appended to their answer are numerous documents including an inmate handbook, employee incident reports, medical incident/injury reports, and misconduct documents. (Doc. No. 19-1 - 4.)

         On October 16, 2017, the Commonwealth Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. No. 20.) Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition on December 22, 2017, attaching declarations and grievances to his brief. (Doc. No. 24.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), once the pleadings are closed, but within such time as to not delay trial, a party may move for judgment on the pleadings. The standard of review is identical to that of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Turbe v. Gov't of Virgin Islands, 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991); Lum v. Bank of Am., 361 F.3d 217, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). The only difference is that, on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court reviews not only the complaint, but also the answer and written instruments attached to the pleadings. Iseley v. Talaber, No. 5-cv-444, 2008 WL 906508, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2008) (citing 2 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice-Civil § 12.38. The court should consider the allegations in the pleadings, the exhibits attached thereto, matters of public record, and “undisputedly authentic” documents if Plaintiff's claims are based on such documents. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 889 F.2d 1192, 1196-97 (3d Cir. 1993); see also Mele v. Fed. Reserve Bank of N.Y., 359 F.3d 251, 256 n.5 (3d Cir. 2004) (providing that a court may consider (1) exhibits attached to the complaint, (2) matters of public record, and (3) all documents that are integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint, even if they are not attached thereto, without converting the motion into one for summary judgment). However, because a Rule 12(c) “motion calls for an assessment of the merits of the case at an embryonic stage, the court must view the facts contained in the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom” in the nonmonvant's favor. R.G. Fin. Corp. v. Vergara-Nunez, 446 F.3d 178, 182 (1st Cir. 2006).

         As a result of the obligation to view the facts and reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant, however, a court should “treat[] any allegations in the answer that contradict the complaint as false.” Goodman v. Williams, 287 F.Supp.2d 160, 161 (D.N.H. 2003); accord Rimmer v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 656 F.2d 323, 326 (8th Cir. 1981) (Rule 12(c) review assumes all “well pleaded factual obligations in [Plaintiff's] amended complaint are true, and all contravening assertions in [Defendant's] answer are assumed false”). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate only when the moving party “clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Minnesota Lawyers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ahrens, 432 Fed.Appx. 143, 147 (3d Cir. 2011). If matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Commonwealth Defendants seek judgment on the pleadings. In support, they rely on an inmate handbook, employee incident reports, medical incident/injury reports, and misconduct documents appended to their answer. (Doc. No. 19.) In response to the Commonwealth Defendants' motion, Plaintiff has attached declarations and grievances to his brief in opposition. (Doc. No. 24.) The Court will not consider Plaintiff's attached exhibits to his brief in opposition as they are not part of the pleadings and not necessary in resolving the motion for judgment on the pleadings. Consequently, the Court will not convert the motion for judgment on the pleadings to a motion for summary judgment. The Court will now address the Commonwealth Defendants' arguments in support of their motion.

         A. Plaintiff's Excessive Force Claim

         In their motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Commonwealth Defendants attempt to utilize the appended documents to their answer, including the employee incident reports, to controvert Plaintiff's assertions in his complaint. (Doc. No. 21.) This inherently raises issues of material fact, making judgment on the pleadings to this claim inappropriate. Whether an officer has used excessive force requires a determination into “whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.” Giles v. Kearney, 571 F.3d 318, 326 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)). In making this determination, courts are tasked with evaluating five factors set forth in Whitley. See Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321. At this juncture in the case, the Court will not make a reasonableness determination precluding Plaintiff's claim as a matter of law based upon the pleadings alone. The procedural mechanism of Rule 12(c) “is simply not intended to resolve the claim as presented herein.” Channel v. Smith, Civ. No. 317-060, 2018 WL 1463356, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 23, 2018). Accordingly, the Commonwealth Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the excessive force claim is denied.

         B. Plaintiff's Failure to Train / Supervise / Protect Claims

         With regard to Defendants Eckard and Eberling, Plaintiff alleges that they failed to train and supervise the RHU guards resulting in the guards using excessive force on prisoners, including Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Eckard and Eberling were deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk of harm caused by the prison official on inmate assaults. (Id. at 6.) While Commonwealth Defendants assert that Plaintiff raises a state-created danger claim (Doc. No. 21 at 12), the Court identifies Plaintiff's claims as a failure to train, failure to supervise, and failure to protect claim pursuant to the Eighth Amendment.[1]See Beenick v. LeFebvre, No. 14-cv-01562, 2015 WL 2344966, at *7 (M.D. Pa ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.