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Harris v. Lesinski

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 11, 2018

RASHEED R. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
LESINSKI, SILBAUGH, GILMORE and WETZEL, Defendants.

          OPINION RE: ECF NO. 47

          MAUREEN P. KEKLY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In the operative Complaint, Plaintiff Rasheed R. Harris ("Plaintiff) advances claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institute at Greene ("SCI-Greene"). ECF No. 7. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment filed on behalf of the two remaining Defendants, Lesinski and Silbaugh ("Defendants"). ECF No. 47. Defendants seek judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) as to all remaining claims asserted in the Complaint filed pro se by Plaintiff. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On August 9, 2016, Plaintiffs Complaint was received by the Court. ECF No. 1. A Deficiency Order was issued on August 29, 2016, because Plaintiff had failed to include a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, a certified copy of his trust fund account statement for the six months preceding the filing of the complaint, a notice and authorization to withdraw funds from his inmate account, service copies of the complaint, process receipt and return forms, and a notice and request for waiver of service. ECF No. 2 at 1-2. Accordingly, the case was dismissed and closed. ECF No. 2. However, the Court ordered that Plaintiff could reopen the case by remedying the aforementioned deficiencies. Id. at 2.

         On September 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion and Declaration in Support of Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and an authorization permitting withdrawal of prison account funds. ECF Nos. 3-4. On September 20, 2016, the Court reopened the case, granted the Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and the Complaint was filed. ECF Nos. 5-7. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged: (1) a sexual assault by Defendant Lesinski on August 7, 2014; and (2) subsequent retaliation against Plaintiff by Defendant Silbaugh by issuance of a false misconduct report. ECF No. 7 at 2.

         On November 21, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 14. On December 13, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Withdraw Defendants Gilmore and Wetzel. ECF No. 19. Thereafter, this Court granted the Motion to Withdraw and dismissed Defendants Gilmore and Wetzel. ECF No. 20. In a separate order, this Court denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as moot. ECF No. 21.

         On December 27, 2016, Defendants Lesinski and Silbaugh filed Defendants' Answer to Plaintiffs Complaint with Affirmative Defenses. ECF No. 23. Following the completion of discovery, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on November 7, 2017. ECF No. 47. The matter now being fully briefed, ECF Nos. 47-50 and 56, the Motion for Summary Judgment is ripe for consideration.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A grant of summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party establishes "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Heffernan v. City of Paterson, 777 F.3d 147, 151 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). A genuine issue of material fact is one that could affect the outcome of litigation. Willis v. UPMC Children's Hosp. of Pittsburgh. 808 F.3d 638, 643 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). However, '"[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'" N.A.A.C.P. v. North Hudson Reg'l Fire & Rescue, 665 F.3d 464, 475 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587(1986)).

         The initial burden is on the moving party to adduce evidence illustrating a lack of genuine issues. Hugh v. Butler Cntv. Family YMCA, 418 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)). Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the non-moving party must present sufficient evidence of a genuine issue, in rebuttal. Santini v. Fuentes, 795 F.3d 410, 416 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Matsushita Elec. 475 U.S. at 587). When considering the parties' arguments, the Court is required to view all facts and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. (citing United States v. Diebold. Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)). The benefit of the doubt will be given to allegations of the non-moving party when in conflict with the moving party's claims. Bialko v. Quaker Oats Co., 434 Fed.Appx. 139, 141 n.4 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Valhal Corp. v. Sullivan Assocs., 44 F.3d 195, 200 (3d Cir. 1995)).

         Nonetheless, a well-supported motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by "[u]nsupported assertions, conclusory allegation or mere suspicions." Betts v. New Castle Youth Dev. Ctr., 621 F.3d 249, 252 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d458, 46O(3dCir. 1989)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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