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Eddington v. York County Prison

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 2, 2018

YORK COUNTY PRISON, et al., Defendants



         I. Background

         On September 15, 2017, Plaintiff, Jason Edward Eddington, an inmate formerly confined[1] in the York County Prison, York, Pennsylvania, filed the above captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. 1, complaint). He complains of incidents which occurred at his former place of confinement, the York County Prison. Id. The named Defendants are PrimeCare Medical, Inc., Margaret Smith, CRNP (incorrectly identified as “Physicians Assistant, Jane Doe, (MAGGIE)), and Sandra Sackett, PA-C (incorrectly identified as “Physicians Assistant, Jane Doe, (SANDY)); Physicians Assistant John Doe; Warden Mary Sabol; Maintenance Manager John McCoy; Maintenance Worker John Doe; and York County Prison. Id.

         Defendants filed two separate motions to dismiss, on November 9, 2017 and December 20, 2017, pursuant to Federal Rule Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff's action should be dismissed for Plaintiff's failure to properly exhaust his administrative remedies in accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a). (Docs. 15, 26).

         On April 25, 2018, in accordance with Paladino v. Newsome, 885 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. Mar. 16, 2018), (holding that the District Court shall provide the parties notice that it will consider exhaustion in its role as fact finder under Small v. Camden Cty., 728 F.3d 265 (3d Cir. 2013), this Court issued an Order, converting Defendants' motions to dismiss to motions for summary judgment and allowing the parties an opportunity to supplement the record with supporting evidence relevant to the exhaustion of administrative remedies. (Doc. 31).

         On May 15, 2018, Defendants PrimeCare Medical, Inc., Margaret Smith, and Sandra Sackett, filed a motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 36) which supercedes and therefore renders moot their November 9, 2017, motion to dismiss.

         Defendants' motions have been fully briefed, and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motions for summary judgment.

         II. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) “[t]he court shall grant 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[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. Anderson, 477 U.S. 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 Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 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. Consolidated Rail Corporation, 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d Cir. 1992); White v. Westinghouse Electric Company, 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). In order to avoid summary judgment, however, parties may not rely on unsubstantiated allegations. Parties seeking to establish that a fact is or is not genuinely disputed must support such an assertion by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, ” by showing that an adverse party's factual assertion lacks support from cited materials, or demonstrating that a factual assertion is unsupportable by admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); see Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (requiring evidentiary support for factual assertions made in response to summary judgment). The party opposing the motion “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Parties must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case that they bear 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). Failure to properly support or contest an assertion of fact may result in the fact being considered undisputed for the purpose of the motion, although a court may also give parties an opportunity to properly provide support or opposition. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         III. Statement of Facts

         Plaintiff states that “on September 30, 2015, while confined on the premises of the York County Prison's Immigration Wing, I-C-4, Bund Bed #8, awaiting a Civil Forfeiture Proceeding, the Plaintiff was surprisingly sprayed directly into the eyes and face by another inmate with a liquid disinfectant cleaning chemical substance that was supplied and distributed to all Housing Units by the York County Prison Maintenance Department for inmates unsupervised use.” (Doc. 1). Plaintiff claims that “after [his] eyes and face were sprayed with said chemical, Plaintiff's eyes and face began to burn severely, causing extreme pain.” Id. He then “requested from the duty Correctional Officer (identity unknown), to be immediately sent to the York County Prison Medical Department for the above said injuries, and was told by this said Corrections Officer, that the Medical Department was too busy tonight and that Plaintiff must wait.” Id. Also, “Plaintiff requested to receive a Grievance Form from this same said Corrections Officer and was told by this Corrections Officer that there were not any Grievance Forms on the Housing Unit available.” Id.

         On September 30, 2015, the Plaintiff “used carbon paper and handwrote his own Grievance complaining of these above said facts.” Id. Specifically, Plaintiff's Grievance read as follows: “Attn: Warden Sabol, While using the rest room I was sprayed in the eyes and face with cleaning chemicals and my eyes are burning very bad. I asked the C/O to send me to the medical but he refused. When I asked for a Grievance he told me that he did not have any. Please help.” (Doc. 1-1 at 6, Grievance). Plaintiff claims to have “hand delivered, submitted, and filed that emergency handwritten grievance with the on-duty Corrections Officer, believing that the on duty Corrections Officer would recognize the Plaintiff's immediate emergency needs and concerns and get the Plaintiff the immediate emergency medical care and treatment required and necessary for Plaintiff's said injuries.” (Doc. 44).

         On October 1, 2015, at 11:49 a.m., Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Practitioner Margaret Smith. (Doc. 48-1, Medical Record). Plaintiff reported the following:

Plaintiff stated that he had something in his eye last night. Stated he kept rubbing it. He stated that he was getting discharge. Plaintiff stated that he also looks like he has something in eye. Plaintiff stated his sight is fine. He also stated it was scratchy, but had little discharge from that eye.

Id. Plaintiff was assessed as having conjunctivitis, conjunctival irritation. Id. He was then given Natural Tears and Polymyxin eye drops, to place in his right eye for five days, was instructed to try not to touch it and to follow-up in five days. Id.

         On October 5, 2015, at 8:54 a.m., Plaintiff was again seen by Nurse Practitioner Smith for his follow-up. Id. Plaintiff reported that he “believes from touching it now has conjunctivitis.” Id. He started using Polytrim drops and stated “it is improved now” with “slight amount of drainage.” Id. Plaintiff was assessed as having conjunctivitis and was directed to continue Polytrim drops as ordered and to follow-up in seven days.” Id.

         On October 12, 2015, at 10:05 a.m., Plaintiff was seen for his follow-up by Physicians Assistant Sandra L. Sackett. Id. Plaintiff reported the he “has redden conjunctiva for several weeks, was given natural tears and no relief, then ordered ab ointment and still no relief, now he is almost 1 month and still burning and stinging.” Id. Plaintiff was assessed with “redden conjunctiva swollen lids.” Id. He was directed to be seen in the afternoon, for a follow-up, by Dr. Bene. Id.

         On October 12, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Bene at the York Eye Institute. (Doc. 44 at 25). Dr. Bene's report to York County Prison reveals the following:

Jason Eddington presents with red painful OU with burning and swelling and blurred vision for about 2 wks. Since getting a ...

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