United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
PARADISE BAXTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Relevant Procedural History
acting pro se, originally filed this case on April
28, 2016. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to protect
him from assault by another inmate. As Defendants to the
original complaint, Plaintiff named Captain Jones, Nancy
Giroux, Melinda Adams, Deputy Clark, Unit Manager
Flinchbaugh, and Sgt. Delaney. ECF No. 3.
later filed a motion requesting that Defendants Jones,
Giroux, Adams, Clark and Flinchbaugh be dismissed. ECF No.
48. Following a hearing on the matter, this Court granted
Plaintiff's motion leaving Sgt. Delaney as the sole
Defendant to this action. ECF No. 55. Thereafter, Defendant
Delaney filed an answer in response to the complaint. ECF No.
March of 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking leave to
amend the complaint and Plaintiff's motion was granted.
ECF No. 72; ECF No. 77. The operative complaint is the
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 83. As Defendants to this action,
Plaintiff named Jones and Garlick. However, at a telephonic
hearing held May 11, 2017, Defendants agreed that Ceramuga
was a proper party to the Amended Complaint. ECF No. 85.
During that hearing, this Court determined that “all
allegations in the complaint are against both” Garlick
and Ceramuga and “the amended complaint is deemed to
include Defendant Ceramuga wherever Defendant Garlick is
named.” ECF No. 159, page 9. Thereafter, Ceramuga was
added as a Defendant and Captain Jones was terminated. On
June 5, 2017, the Office of the Attorney General entered an
appearance on behalf of Ceramuga and Garlick. ECF No. 87.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on January 11,
2016, Inmate Gilbert was moved into Plaintiff's cell. ECF
No. 83, ¶ 10. Gilbert informed Plaintiff that he was not
supposed to be in general population because he “was
pending a transfer to the gang-unit.” Id. at
¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that Gilbert threatened him with
bodily harm and that when Plaintiff notified prison staff of
the threat, prison staff took no action to protect Plaintiff.
Id. Sometime during third shift while Plaintiff was
asleep on the top bunk, he was attacked by Gilbert and
suffered injuries. Id.
Defendant has filed an answer in response to the Amended
Complaint. ECF No. 99 (Garlick); ECF No. 111 (Ceramuga).
October 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary
judgment, arguing that he is entitled to summary judgment
against Defendant Ceramuga but does not mention Defendant
Garlick in his motion/brief. ECF No. 120.
November 22, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment arguing that: 1) Defendant Garlick had no personal
involvement in the alleged constitutional violation as he was
not at the prison at the time of the assault; 2) Plaintiff
has not demonstrated a failure to protect claim (against
Ceramuga); and 3) the uncontradicted record and video refute
claims of injury and render Plaintiff's allegation of
attack incredible. ECF No. 135.
parties have filed briefs in opposition to the pending
dispositive motions. Accordingly, the dispositive motions are
fully briefed and are ripe for disposition by this Court.
Standards of Review
Pro se Litigants
reviewing a pro se plaintiff's complaint, the
court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as
true and take them in the light most favorable to the pro
se plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93 (2007); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008). A complaint must be dismissed
if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556 (2007).
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above a speculative level.” Id. at 555.
The court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff
if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the
complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The
Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) (internal
citation omitted). Nor must the court accept legal
conclusions set forth as factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Additionally, a civil
rights claim “must contain specific allegations of fact
which indicate a deprivation of constitutional rights;
allegations which are nothing more than broad, simple and
conclusory statements are insufficient to state a claim under
§ 1983.” Alfaro Motors, Inc. v. Ward, 814
F.2d 883, 887 (2d Cir. 1987).
a court must employ less stringent standards when considering
pro se pleadings than when judging the work product
of an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520-521 (1972). When presented with a pro se
complaint, the court should construe the complaint liberally
and draw fair inferences from what is not alleged as well as
from what is alleged. Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d
365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003). In a §1983 action, the court
must “apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether
the pro se litigant has mentioned it by name.”
Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002)
(internal quotation omitted). See also Nami v.
Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (“Since this
is a § 1983 action, the [pro se] plaintiffs are
entitled to relief if their complaint sufficiently alleges
deprivation of any right secured by the
Constitution.”). Notwithstanding this liberality,
pro se litigants are not relieved of their
obligation to allege sufficient facts to support a cognizable
Motion for summary judgment
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 (1986).
“[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 F.R.Civ.P.
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).