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Blackstone v. Kostelnik

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 24, 2018


          Cathy Bissoon United States District Judge.


          Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge.


         It is respectfully recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 41) be denied as genuine issues of material fact exist which preclude the granting of summary judgment.

         II. REPORT

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff, Stephen Blackstone, is a state prisoner in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”) and is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene (“SCI-Greene”). He brings this suit raising constitutional claims relating to the dental care he received by Defendants in 2014. Defendant Celeste Kostelnik was previously employed by the DOC as a General Dentist from September 10, 2007 through March 3, 2017. Defendant Robert Krak is currently employed by the DOC as a Staff Dentist and has held that position since 1994. Blackstone contends that both Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment and that Defendant Kostelnik retaliated again him in violation of the First Amendment.

         Following the close of discovery, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. The issues have been fully briefed and the factual record developed. (ECF Nos. 42, 43, 44, 55, 56, and 57). The motion is ripe for disposition.

         B. Standard of Review

         To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must demonstrate 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 assess whether the moving party has satisfied this standard, the court does not engage in credibility determinations, Simpson v. Kay Jewelers, Div. of Sterling, Inc., 142 F.3d 639, 643 n.3 (3d Cir. 1998), and views the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying evidence, or the lack thereof, which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). Material facts are those “that could affect the outcome” of the proceeding, and “a dispute about a material fact is ‘genuine' if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Pearson v. Prison Health Service, 850 F.3d 526, 533-34 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011)). Once that burden has been met, the nonmoving party may not rest on the allegations in the complaint, but must “go beyond the pleadings and by [their] own affidavits, or by the ‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial'.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). If, after making all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, the court determines that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, summary judgment is appropriate. Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987).

         C. Discussion

         Based on the filings, it is clear that the parties agree on very few material facts. Specifically, the parties agree that (i) on June 9, 2014, Blackstone had out patient oral surgery during which William Chung, D.M.D., removed an impacted wisdom tooth and a cyst in Blackstone's jawbone; (ii) Dr. Kostelnik gave Blackstone a mechanical soft food diet[1] pass for one week, from June 10, 2014 - June 17, 2014; (iii) Blackstone saw Dr. Kostelnik on June 13, 2014, at which time he told her that he felt that his surgery was done improperly and she gave Blackstone a line pass for pain medication; and (iv) on July 7, 2014, Blackstone returned to Dr. Chung for a post-operative follow-up visit.

         Other than these four agreed upon facts, the parties present a much different version of events. As to Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claims, Blackstone contends that Dr. Chung gave the correctional officers who had transported him to the hospital explicit, post-operative care instructions which were to be given to the DOC dentists upon Blackstone's return to SCI-Greene. Specifically, those instructions were that Blackstone was to be placed on a soft food diet for two to three weeks. In support, Blackstone has produced the Physician's Order Form, which was entered upon his return to SCI-Greene after his surgery, which states, “soft diet x 14 days. P.O. Dr. Park / M.McCann, RN.” ECF ...

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