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Walker v. Ebbert

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 1, 2018

WARDEN DAVID J. EBBERT, et al., Defendants



         Before the Court for disposition is Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 61), and Plaintiff's motion for default judgment (Doc. No. 72). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion will be granted and Plaintiff's motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 1, 2016, pro se Plaintiff Cedric Tyrone Walker, an inmate formerly incarcerated in the Special Management Unit (“SMU”) at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (“USP-Lewisburg”), filed the instant Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotic, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint on January 30, 2017 (Doc. No. 10), and this Court ordered service of the same on February 7, 2017 (Doc. No. 15).

         On May 2, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 21), which this Court granted on September 18, 2017 (Doc. Nos. 40, 41). The Court directed Plaintiff to file a second amended complaint. (Id.) On October 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against the following employees of USP-Lewisburg: Ferdinand Alama, Dallas Beachel, David J. Ebbert, Francis Fasciana, Adam Good, Derrick Heim, Matthew Hess, Christopher Hughes, Brandon Mottern, Dr. Kevin Pigos, and Brian White.[1] (Doc. No. 45.) Plaintiff alleges that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was placed in restraints on May 1, 2015 through May 10, 2015. (Id.) He alleges that the restraints were so tight that they cut off his circulation and caused wounds on his wrists, for which he was denied medical care. (Id.)

         On February 5, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 61), and on February 20, 2018, filed their statement of facts (Doc. No. 62), and brief in support (Doc. No. 63). On June 4, 2018, upon observing that Defendants raised the issue as to whether Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing the instant action, the Court issued an Order advising the parties that it would consider the exhaustion issue in the context of summary judgment, and by doing so, would consider matters outside the pleadings in its role as factfinder. (Doc. No. 69.) The Court directed Defendants to file any additional supplemental materials relevant the exhaustion issue to the extent that they had not already done so, and further directed Plaintiff to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Id.) The Court further advised Plaintiff to file a statement of material facts specifically responding to the numbered paragraphs in Defendants' statements pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, and to submit materials and documents relevant the exhaustion of administrative remedies issue. (Id.)

         On June 28, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment, requesting that the Court enter a default judgment against Defendants for their purported failure to comply with this Court's July 4, 2018 Order. (Doc. No. 72.) On July 30, 2018, the Court received and docketed Plaintiff's brief in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 73.) However, Plaintiff failed to file a statement of material facts specifically responding to Defendants', despite the clear directive set forth in this Court's July 4, 2018 Order. (Doc. No. 69.)


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) requires the court to render summary judgment “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[T]his standard provides that 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.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A disputed fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id. at 248; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v. Local 514, United Bhd. of Carpenters and Joiners of Am., 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).

         When determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Moore v. Tartler, 986 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1993); Clement v. Consol. Rail Corp., 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d Cir. 1992); White v. Westinghouse Electric Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). In order to avoid summary judgment, however, the nonmoving party may not rest on the unsubstantiated allegations of his or her pleadings. When the party seeking summary judgment satisfies its burden under Rule 56 of identifying evidence which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party is required by Rule 56 to go beyond his pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The party opposing the motion “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). When Rule 56 shifts the burden of production to the nonmoving party, that party must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case which it bears the burden of proving at trial, for “a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. See Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992).

         A party opposing a summary judgment motion must comply with Local Rule 56.1, which specifically directs the oppositional party to submit a “statement of the material facts, responding to the numbered paragraphs set forth in the statement required [to be filed by the movant], as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried”; if the nonmovant fails to do so, “[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted.” L.R. 56.1. A party cannot evade these litigation responsibilities in this regard simply by citing the fact that he is a pro se litigant. These rules apply with equal force to all parties. See Sanders v. Beard, No. 09-cv-1384, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS, *15 (M.D. Pa. July 20, 2010) (pro se parties “are not excused from complying with court orders and the local rules of court”); Thomas v. Norris, No. 02-cv-01854, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64347, *11 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 8, 2006) (pro se parties must follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure).


         Plaintiff, formerly incarcerated in the SMU at USP-Lewisburg, is presently incarcerated at USP-Coleman, Florida. (Doc. No. 62, ¶¶ 1-2.) The Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), has established an administrative remedy procedure through which an inmate may submit complaints relating to any aspect of his confinement. (Id. ¶ 3.) Inmates must first present their complaints to staff in an attempt to informally resolve the matter. (Id. ¶ 4.) If unsuccessful at informal resolution, the inmate may then present the issue to the warden within twenty calendar days of the event giving rise to the complaint. (Id. ¶ 5.) If an inmate is dissatisfied with the warden's response, he may then appeal to the BOP Regional Director within twenty calendar days. (Id. ¶ 6.) If dissatisfied with the Regional Director's response, the inmate may then appeal to the BOP's Central Office within thirty calendar days, constituting the final level of administrative review. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) No administrative remedy appeal is considered to have been fully exhausted until it is decided on its merits by the Central Office. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         Plaintiff has filed fifty-five (55) administrative remedies since incarcerated with the BOP. (Id. ¶ 10.) On June 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed Administrative Remedy No. 907484-F1 at the institutional level concerning his alleged placement in restraints for ten days. (Id. ¶ 11.) This claim was denied on August 7, 2017 and Plaintiff appealed to the Regional Office on September 6, 2017 via Remedy 907484-R1. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) The Regional Office denied the appeal on September 21, 2017 and Plaintiff appealed to the Central Office on October 17, 2017 via Remedy 907484-A1. (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 14-15.) The Central Office rejected the filing on ...

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