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Ferranti v. Lane

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 12, 2018

JACK FERRANTI, Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN KATHY LANE, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Jack Ferranti ("Ferranti"), a inmate currently confined at the Allenwood Low Security Federal Correctional Institution ("LSCI-Allenwood"), located in White Deer, Pennsylvania, initiated this action pursuant to Bivens[1], 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 1). Named as Defendants are Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") Director Thomas Kane, Northeast Regional Director M.D. Carvajal, and LSCI-Allenwood Warden Kathy Lane. (Id.). In the complaint, Ferranti alleges that Defendants improperly categorized his arson offense as greater security and assigned him a Public Safety Factor ("PSF"), which precluded him from several liberty interests, including designation to a lower security institution.[2] (Doc. 1, ¶ 15). Ferranti argues that the United States Supreme Court decision in Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___ 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), rendered this classification invalid. (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 30). He further argues that the classification violates due process, the ex post facto clause, the equal protection clause, the Fifth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-37). For relief, Ferranti requests that Defendants "authorize the waiver of the public safety factor, and reduction of Plaintiff's offense severity level commensurate to the requirements of the Johnson ruling." (Doc. 1, p. 13). He also requests modernization of the BOP classification policies and procedures. (Id. at p. 14).

         Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 13). The motion is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         When a party moves to dismiss, but where "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Typically, when a court converts a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, notice must be given to all parties of the court's intent to do so. Id:, Garcia v. Newtown Twp., 2010 WL 785808, at *3 (E.D. Pa. 2010). However, if a motion to dismiss has been filed with an alternative request for summary judgment, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the alternative filing is sufficient to "place the parties on notice that summary judgment might be entered." Latham v. United States, 306 Fed.Appx. 716, 718 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Hilfirty v. Shipman, 91 F.3d 573, 578-79 (3d Cir. 1996)). Accordingly, the Court will treat Defendants' filing as a motion for summary judgment.

         Through summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to materiality, ... [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must offer specific facts contradicting those averred by the movant to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). Therefore, the non-moving party may not oppose summary judgment simply on the basis of the pleadings, or on conclusory statements that a factual issue exists. Anderson, 497 U.S. at 248. "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record ... or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). In evaluating whether summary judgment should be granted, "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.1992), cert, denied 507 U.S. 912 (1993).

         However, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). If a party has carried its burden under the summary judgment rule,

its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact. When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.

Id. (internal quotations, citations, and alterations omitted).

         III. Bivens Standard

         A Bivens action is the federal counterpart to an action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Paton v. LaPrade, 524 F.2d 82 (3d Cir.1975); Farmer v. Carlson, 685 F.Supp. 1335, 1338 (M.D. Pa. 1988). Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress

Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder,95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996). To state a claim under ยง 1983, a plaintiff must allege "the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting ...


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