United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
se Plaintiff Kevin Coit (“Plaintiff”), an
individual currently confined at the State Correctional
Institution Smithfield in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
(“SCI Smithfield”), initiated the above-captioned
action by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 on August 14, 2017, asserting claims of excessive force,
sexual assault, failure to protect, excessive cell searches,
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, retaliation, and
denial of access to the courts in violation of the First and
Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc.
No. 1.) Plaintiff asserts that these violations occurred
while he was incarcerated at SCI Rockview in Pennsylvania.
(Id.) On September 6, 2017, the Court granted
Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
directed service of his complaint on Defendants Mr. Garman
(“Garman”), Mr. Pasquale
(“Pasquale”), Mr. Hashenberger
(“Harshbarger”), Lt. Gates (“Gates”),
Lylttle (“Lytle”), Sergeant Clevland
(“Cleveland”),  C.O. Condo (“Condo”),
CO Florey (“Florey”), CO Conklin
(“Conklin”), CO Seymour (“Seymour”),
CO Ward (“Ward”), CO Edwards
(“Edwards”), and Hearing Examiner Pilosi
(“Pilosi”). (Doc. No. 7.) Defendants filed their
answer on December 7, 2017. (Doc. No. 27.)
engaging in discovery, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment (Doc. No. 52) and supporting materials (Doc. Nos.
53, 60). Plaintiff subsequently filed a brief in opposition
(Doc. No. 65), statement of facts (Doc. No. 66), and exhibits
(Doc. No. 68). Defendants then filed a reply brief. (Doc. No.
69.) On February 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion
requesting leave to refile his brief in opposition (Doc. No.
75), as well as his proposed corrected brief (Doc. No. 77).
In an Order dated April 2, 2019, the Court granted
Plaintiff's motion and directed Defendants to file any
reply brief they wished to file within seven (7) days. (Doc.
No. 79.) After receiving an extension of time, Defendants
filed their reply brief on April 19, 2019. (Doc. No. 82.)
2, 2019, observing that Defendants raised the issue of
whether Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies with
respect to certain in accordance with the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”), the Court issued a
Paladino Order informing 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. 83.) The Court
provided Defendants fourteen (14) days to “amend or
supplement their materials to further address whether
Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies.”
(Id.) The Court further noted that Plaintiff should
file a brief in opposition addressing the issue of
administrative exhaustion, as well as a statement of material
facts specifically responding to Defendants' statement,
within twenty-one (21) days from the date that Defendants
filed any amended or supplemental materials. (Id.)
had until May 16, 2019 to amend or supplement their materials
to further address the issue of administrative exhaustion.
Defendants, however, did not file any supplemental materials.
Accordingly, because there are no supplemental materials for
Plaintiff to respond to, Defendants' motion for summary
judgment is ripe for resolution.
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.” See
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).
disputed fact is “material” if proof of its
existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the
case under applicable substantive law. See 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. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v.
Local 514, United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners of
Am., 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).
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. See Moore v.
Tartler, 986 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1993); Clement v.
Consolidated Rail Corp., 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d Cir.
1992); White v. Westinghouse Elec. 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 that demonstrates the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party is
required to go beyond his pleadings with affidavits,
depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order
to demonstrate specific material facts that give rise to a
genuine issue. See 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.” See
Matsushita Elec. 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
that 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.” See Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323; see also Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846,
851 (3d Cir. 1992).
determining whether an issue of material fact exists, the
Court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. See White, 862 F.2d at 59.
In doing so, the Court must accept the nonmovant's
allegations as true and resolve any conflicts in his favor.
See id. (citations omitted). However, 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.” See 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, Civ. No. 09-1384, 2010 WL 2853261, at *5 (M.D.
Pa. July 20, 2010) (stating that pro se parties
“are not excused from complying with court orders and
the local rules of court”); Thomas v. Norris,
Civ. No. 02-01854, 2006 WL 2590488, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 8,
2006) (explaining that pro se parties must follow
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure).
Statement of Material Facts 
Facts Regarding the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
(“DOC”) Grievance Procedure
policy DC-ADM 804 provides that an inmate may file a
grievance when “personally affected by a Department or
institutional action or policy or by the action of a
Department employee.” (Doc. No. 53 ¶ 63.) A
grievance must be submitted, in writing, to the Facility
Grievance Coordinator at the facility where the events
complained of occurred, using the grievance form available on
all housing units and blocks. (Id. ¶¶
63-64.) A grievance must be submitted within fifteen (15)
working days from the event upon which it is based.
(Id. ¶ 63.) The grievance must: (1) include a
statement of relevant facts; (2) identify anyone who may
possess information that could assist in resolving the
grievance; and (3) specifically state any claims
“concerning violations of Department directives,
regulations, court orders, or other law.” (Id.
¶ 65.) Upon receipt, the Facility Grievance Coordinator
“assign[s] a properly submitted grievance to a
grievance officer not involved in the case to make a written
response to the grievant.” (Id. ¶ 66.)
The Facility Grievance Coordinator reviews the response
before it is provided to the inmate. (Id.)
inmate may appeal the initial response to the Facility
Manager (Superintendent). (Id. ¶ 67.) The
Facility Manager then provides a written response to the
inmate. (Id. ¶ 68.) The Facility Manager
“may uphold the response, uphold the inmate, dismiss,
dismiss as untimely, or uphold in part/deny in part.”
(Id.) The Facility Manager can also choose to remand
the initial response to the grievance officer for further
investigation or reconsideration. (Id.)
inmate may appeal the Facility Manager's response to
final review by the Secretary's Office of Inmate
Grievances and Appeals (“SOIGA”) within fifteen
(15) working days of the date of the Facility Manager's
decision. (Id. ¶ 69.) Only issues appealed to
the Facility Manager may be appealed to SOIGA. (Id.)
SOIGA then reviews the grievance, the initial response, the
appeal to the Facility Manager and the Facility Manager's
response, any relevant investigative reports, and the appeal
to final review. (Id. ¶ 70.) SOIGA “may
uphold the response, uphold the inmate['s argument],
dismiss the appeal, dismiss as untimely or uphold in
part/deny in part.” (Id. ¶ 71.) SOIGA
maintains a copy of its response and provide a copy of the
response to the inmate and the Facility Manager.
(Id.) “An inmate has not properly completed
the grievance procedure unless he properly appeals his
grievance to” SOIGA. (Id.)
Facts Regarding the Handcuff Incident
February 24, 2017, Plaintiff refused to allow Defendants
Cleveland and Condo to pat-search him while he was outside of
his cell. (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff went back inside
his cell but refused to have the handcuffs removed.
(Id. ¶ 4.) Accordingly, a tether was attached
to the handcuffs. (Id.) Defendants Cleveland and
Condo held the tether and struggled to remove Plaintiff's
handcuffs through the aperture of his closed cell
door. (Id. ¶ 5.) After the
handcuffs were removed, Plaintiff refused to put his hands
and arms back inside the cell. (Id. ¶ 6.) After
a struggle, Defendants Cleveland and Condo successfully
pushed Plaintiff's hands and arms back into the cell.
(Id. ¶ 7.)
than four (4) minutes later, a corrections officer observed
Plaintiff cutting himself with an object. (Id.
¶ 8.) When asked, Plaintiff confirmed that he had been
cutting himself. (Id. ¶ 9.) Two (2) minutes
later, an officer arrived and asked Plaintiff if he wanted to
go to the medical department. (Id. ¶ 10.)
Plaintiff was ultimately removed from his cell and taken to
the medical department. (Id. ¶ 11.) On March
17, 2017, a report of the incident was completed.
(Id. ¶ 12.)
Facts Regarding Plaintiff's Cell Conditions and Searches
and Allegations of Abuse, Harassment, and
cell was searched on February 24, 2017. (Id.
¶ 13.) On March 3, 2017, the grievance coordinator
received grievance 667858 from Plaintiff, in which Plaintiff
complained about what happened on February 24, 2017.
(Id. ¶ 14.) On March 6, 2017, the grievance
coordinator received grievance 667721 from Plaintiff, in
which Plaintiff raised claims of abuse, harassment, and
threats by corrections officers. (Id. ¶ 16.) On
March 9, 2017, Plaintiff withdrew grievance 667858 and an
allegation of abuse. (Id. ¶ 15.) Grievance
667721 was ultimately denied, and Plaintiff's appeal was
dismissed as untimely. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) On
final appeal, the dismissal of Plaintiff's appeal as
untimely was upheld. (Id. ¶ 18.)
March 13, 2017, Plaintiff submitted grievance 668547,
claiming that he had been assaulted by another inmate and
that corrections officers had failed to protect him.
(Id. ¶ 19.) The grievance was denied, and
Plaintiff's appeal of the denial was dismissed as
untimely. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) The dismissal of
Plaintiff's appeal as untimely was upheld in his final
appeal. (Id. ¶ 21.) On April 14,
2017, the grievance coordinator received grievance 673645, in
which Plaintiff claimed that he had been placed in a cell
covered in feces and had been abused by corrections officers.
(Id. ¶ 46.) The grievance was also denied, and
Plaintiff did not appeal. (Id. ¶ 47.)
April 17, 2017, the grievance coordinator received grievance
673563, in which Plaintiff raised claims of harassment,
retaliation, and excessive cell searches. (Id.
¶ 48.) After the grievance was denied, the denial was
upheld at both appellate stages. (Id. ¶ 49.) On
May 22, 2017, the grievance coordinator received grievance
678886, in which Plaintiff raised claims of threats of abuse,
harassment, and retaliation by correctional officers.
(Id. ¶ 58.) Similar to his other grievances,
this grievance was denied, and Plaintiff's appeal to the
facility manager was also dismissed as untimely.
(Id. ¶ 59.) On June 6, 2017, the grievance
coordinator received grievance 681148, in which Plaintiff
again raised claims of harassment and retaliation.
(Id. ¶ 60.) This grievance was rejected for not
being submitted within fifteen (15) days of the events of
which Plaintiff complained. (Id. ¶ 61.) On
appeal, the facility manager upheld the rejection, and the
appeal to final review was dismissed because Plaintiff had
not provided required or legible documentation for review.
(Id. ¶ 62.)
Facts Regarding Plaintiff's Assault by Another
March 22, 2017, Plaintiff was assaulted and stabbed by
another inmate while in SRTU Room 102. (Id.
¶ 22.) Three (3) corrections officers immediately
responded and separated Plaintiff from the other
inmate. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff
received medical attention for his injuries. (Id.
¶ 24.) On March 23, 2017, the Facility Grievance
Coordinator received grievance 670073, in which Plaintiff
claimed that the assault and stabbing resulted from
corrections officers' failure to protect him.
(Id. ¶ 25.) The grievance was denied, and that
decision was upheld through both levels of appeal.
(Id. ¶ 26.) On March 23, 2017, the Facility
Grievance Coordinator received grievance 670072, in which
Plaintiff raised claims of harassment, threats, retaliation,
and destruction of legal documents by corrections
officers. (Id. ¶ 27.) The grievance
was also denied, and that denial was upheld by the Facility
Manager. (Id. ¶ 28.) On final review, SOIGA
dismissed the grievance as untimely. (Id. ¶
Facts Regarding Plaintiff's Cell Extraction for Medical
April 10, 2017, Plaintiff refused to be assessed by medical
staff. (Id. ¶ 30.) Corrections officers planned
to take Plaintiff to the medical department to be monitored
because he had refused ten (10) consecutive meals.
(Id. ¶ 31.) Accordingly, an extraction team was
assembled and briefed. (Id. ¶ 32.) When the
extraction team arrived at his cell, Plaintiff complied with
orders to leave. (Id. ¶ 33.) He was placed in a
restraint chair and escorted to the medical department
without incident. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35.)
arriving at the medical department, Plaintiff was removed
from the restraint chair and placed in TBO cell 101.
(Id. ¶ 36.) At this time, he refused a medical
assessment. (Id.) After medical staff took
photographs, Plaintiff refused to comply with orders to
change into an anti-suicide smock; therefore, it was ordered
that his clothes be cut off with shears. (Id. ¶
37.) As officers started to cut away Plaintiff's clothes,
Plaintiff became aggressive, shouting for them to stop
twisting his wrist and to remove a finger from his eye.
(Id. ¶ 38.) As the smock was placed on
Plaintiff, he began “to yell at the officers,
‘get your finger out of my ass.'”
(Id. ¶ 40.) Video of the incident, however,
shows that Plaintiff's wrists were not twisted and that
nothing was placed in his eye or his rectum. (Id.
¶¶ 39, 41.) Plaintiff attempted to move away from
the officers, and they placed him on the ground to regain
control. (Id. ¶ 42.) Once they regained control
of him, officers placed Plaintiff on the cell bed to put the
smock on and to have more medical photographs taken.
(Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiff told the officers that he
was going to start spitting, so they placed a spit hood on
him. (Id. ¶ 44.) Subsequently, the officers
removed Plaintiff's shackles and spit hood and left him
in the medical cell. (Id. ¶ 45.)
April 24, 2017, the grievance coordinator received grievance
674828, in which Plaintiff claimed that the officers had used
excessive force against him during the April 10, 2017
incident. (Id. ¶ 54.) The grievance was denied,
and Plaintiff's appeal to the facility manager was
dismissed as untimely. (Id. ¶ 55.) Plaintiff
returned from medical on May 16, 2017 and was moved into cell
GA-1002. (Id. ¶ 56.)
Facts Regarding Plaintiff's Misconduct Hearing
appeared before Defendant Pilosi for a misconduct hearing on
April 17, 2017. (Id. ¶ 51.) This misconduct
hearing involved three (3) separate incidents, including
Plaintiff's “combative behavior towards the
officers during the April 10, 2017 escort to medical.”
(Id. ¶ 52.) The misconduct involving the events
of April 10, 2017 was dismissed without prejudice.
(Id. ¶ 53 n.3.) For the other two misconducts,
Plaintiff was sanctioned to 180 days of loss of privileges
and 180 days of disciplinary custody. (Id. ¶
Defendants' Motion ...