United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
PARADISE BAXTER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter
Relevant Procedural History
Siddeeq Henry, an inmate incarcerated at the State
Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville,
Pennsylvania, filed this pro se civil rights action
on June 11, 2015, against three corrections officers at
SCI-Forest: CO W. Lamoreaux (“Lamoreaux”); CO
Wells (“Wells”), and CO Ellenberger
(“Ellenberger”). In his pro se
complaint, Plaintiff alleges three counts: (1) an Eighth
Amendment excessive use of force claim against all
Defendants; (2) a claim of retaliation against Defendant
Wells; and (3) a civil conspiracy claim against all
Defendants. Defendants filed an answer to Plaintiff's
complaint on March 20, 2017, and the parties have since
September 15, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment [ECF No. 30], arguing that Plaintiff procedurally
defaulted his claims against Defendants Lamoreaux and
Ellenberger, and has otherwise failed to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. Plaintiff has since filed a
memorandum of law in opposition to Defendants' motion,
supported by his own sworn declaration. [ECF No. 51, 52].
This matter is now ripe for consideration.
Standards of Review
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.” Under Rule
56, the district court must enter summary judgment against a
party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Summary judgment may be granted
when no “reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (19896). “[A] party
seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323 quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
moving party has the initial burden of proving to the
district court the absence of evidence supporting the
non-moving party's claims. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
330. See also 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). When a non-moving party would have the burden of proof
at trial, the moving party has no burden to negate the
opponent's claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The
moving party need not produce any evidence showing the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at
325. “Instead, … the burden on the moving party
may be discharged by ‘showing' - that is, pointing
out to the district court - that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.”
Id. After the moving party has satisfied this low
burden, the nonmoving party must provide facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial to avoid summary judgment.
Id. at 324. “Rule 56(e) permits a proper
summary judgment motion to be opposed by any of the kinds of
evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), except the mere
pleadings themselves.” Id. See also
Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir.
2001); Garcia v. Kimmell, 2010 WL 2089639, at * 1
(3d Cir. 2010) quoting Podobnik v. U.S. Postal
Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (the non-moving
party “must present more than just bare assertions,
conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of
a genuine issue.”).
considering these evidentiary materials, “courts are
required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in
the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary
judgment motion.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S.
372, 378 (2007) (internal quotation marks and alterations
omitted). See also Doe v. Cnty. of Centre, Pa., 242
F.3d 437, 446 (3d Cir. 2001) (when applying this standard,
the court must examine the factual record and make reasonable
inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party
opposing summary judgment).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not
permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility
determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are
any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both
genuine and material. Anderson., 477 U.S. at 248,
255 (“only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.”).
In determining whether the dispute is genuine, the
court's function is not to weigh the evidence or to
determine the truth of the matter, but only to determine
whether the evidence of record is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
at 249. The court may consider any evidence that would be
admissible at trial in deciding the merits of a motion for
summary judgment. Horta v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 2, 8
(1st Cir. 1993).
Pro Se Pleadings
se pleadings, “however inartfully pleaded, ”
must be held to “less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers” Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). If the court can
reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the
litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to
cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories,
poor syntax and sentence construction, or litigant's
unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. Boag v.
MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex
rel. Montgomery v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir.
1969) ("petition prepared by a prisoner... may be
inartfully drawn and should be read 'with a measure of
tolerance'”); Freeman v. Department of
Corrections, 949 F.2d 360 (10th Cir. 1991). Under our
liberal pleading rules, a district court should construe all
allegations in a complaint in favor of the complainant.
Gibbs v. Roman, 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir.1997) (overruled
on other grounds). See, e.g., Nami v.
Fauver, 82 ...