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Edrington v. Mahally

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 12, 2019

THOMAS LEE EDRINGTON, Plaintiff
v.
LARRY MAHALLY, et al., Defendants

          MANNION, D.J.

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 29)

          William I. Arbuckle U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         On November 21, 2016, state inmate Thomas Lee Edrington (“Plaintiff”) initiated this pro se civil rights action against Defendants Larry Mahally, Rebecca Mooney, C.J. McKeown, C.O. Sedeski, and John Duffy (collectively “Defendants”) after he was stabbed in the eye by follow-inmate Quinnmar Cooper. (Doc. 1). On March 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 10). On December 7, 2017, Defendants filed an Answer. (Doc. 22).

         Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 29). Along with their Motion, Defendants filed a Statement of Facts and Brief in Support. (Docs. 30, 31). Although Plaintiff was informed of his obligation to respond (Doc. 32), advised of the consequences of the failure to respond (Docs. 32, 40), and was given multiple extensions of time to respond (Docs. 34, 40), he has failed to do so. Accordingly, it is recommended that Defendants' Motion be deemed unopposed pursuant to L.R. 7.6, or in the alternative, that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint be dismissed pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         I. BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) contains virtually no factual allegations about the incident underlying his claims. For the benefits of the Court I have summarized Plaintiff's account of the events that led to, and followed, the physical altercation which resulted in the loss of Plaintiff's eye.

         Plaintiff has been housed at the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Dallas”) since August of 2000. (Doc. 31-1, p. 12). He is currently serving a twenty-five-year sentence. (Doc. 31-1, p. 16).

         During deposition, Plaintiff testified that Rebecca Mooney (“Defendant Mooney”) oversees a drug treatment program at the prison. (Doc. 31-1, p. 15). Plaintiff reported that every year at his annual review Plaintiff was encouraged to participate in this program. (Doc. 31-1, p. 16). Plaintiff testified at deposition that he did not enroll in the program because he preferred to wait until closer to the end of his sentence. Id. Then, in 2014, “around Christmas Day, ” Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Mooney took Plaintiff's job away. Id. On or around December 30, 2014, Plaintiff was told that he had been transferred to “TC”-a four-month drug treatment program. (Doc. 31-1, pp. 17, 20).[1] It appears that participation in this program required that Plaintiff be housed on “M/TC Block”-an area of the prison specifically devoted to this program.

         Plaintiff reported that the M/TC Block was not heated. (Doc. 31-1, p. 21).

         On January 27, 2015, Plaintiff reported to a group meeting. Plaintiff had been assigned the task of reading the rules before each meeting. That day, he passed this task on to another inmate he identifies as “Satchel.” (Doc. 31-1, p. 23). Satchel was having trouble reading the rules. (Doc. 31-1, p. 24). A third inmate, Smith, began to help Satchel while Plaintiff played sudoku. Id.

         Later that day, John Duffy (“Defendant Duffy”), a counselor in the TC program issued a “written pull-up form” to Plaintiff because “when you've carried out any position within the M/TC environment, it is your responsibility to train the next person taking over that rule.” (Doc. 31-1, p. 25). Plaintiff was instructed to write an essay as a punishment for not helping Satchel read the meeting rules. (Doc. 31-1, p. 26).

         On January 28, 2015, Plaintiff speculated to other inmates that Smith and Satchel must have reported him to Defendant Duffy. (Doc. 31-1, p. 27). Inmate Quinnmar Cooper (“inmate Cooper”) overheard that conversation and yelled at Plaintiff because Plaintiff was “putting a snitch label on some guys . . . and that might get around in jail.” Id. Their argument escalated and Plaintiff-who was 65 at the time-became embroiled in a physical altercation with, much younger, inmate Cooper. (Doc. 31-1, p. 28).

         During the physical altercation, Plaintiff sustained, what he thought to be a black eye. He reported to his morning group but used a medical pass to go to the infirmary. (Doc. 31-1, p. 32). When he arrived there, however, he began to feel unwell and it became apparent that his eye injury was more severe than he first believed. (Doc. 31-1, pp. 32-33). When he was being examined, a member of the medical staff said, “you've been stabbed.” (Doc. 31-1, p. 33). Prison Medical Staff recommended that he be taken to the hospital. (Doc. 31-1, p. 33).

         While at the prison, Plaintiff was stripped of his usual clothes and dressed in a thin yellow jumpsuit for transport to the hospital. (Doc. 31-1, p. 34). Plaintiff was not given a winter coat to wear despite the cold temperatures. (Doc. 31-1, p. 34). Plaintiff had to wait thirty minutes for the medical transport vehicle to arrive. Plaintiff was kept at the hospital overnight and had between fifteen and eighteen sutures around his eye. (Doc. 31-1, p. 35). Plaintiff was not given a winter coat to wear during his trip back to the prison. (Doc. 31-1, p. 35).

         When Plaintiff was brought back to the prison he was kept in a small room in the infirmary. (Doc. 31-1, p. 36). Plaintiff was still staying in the infirmary when the guards came to get him for the disciplinary hearing related to the January 28, 2015 physical altercation. (Doc. 31-1, p. 36). However, on the date of that hearing, Plaintiff's glasses had not been returned. Id. Plaintiff told Defendant McKeown that he needed his glasses, and Defendant McKeown responded that Plaintiff “could get them later.” (Doc. 31-1, p. 38). Plaintiff was forced to write out his account of the January 28, 2015 fight without the use of his glasses. Id. After Plaintiff finished this task, Defendant McKeown gave Plaintiff a copy of Inmate Cooper's account of the altercation. (Doc. 31-1, pp. 39-40). Plaintiff was sentenced to sixty (60) days in the RHU for fighting, which he served in the prison infirmary. (Doc. 31-1, p. 43).

         Defendants Duffy and Sedeski both visited Plaintiff in the infirmary, and Plaintiff told them about everything that happened. (Doc. 31-1, p. 56).

         After completing his sixty-day sentence, Plaintiff was transferred to J-Block, a handicapped accessible unit. (Doc. 31-1, p. 55). Although Inmate Cooper was housed on a different block than Plaintiff, one day Plaintiff encountered Inmate Cooper while Inmate Cooper was working in the dining hall. (Doc. 31-1, p. 56). Plaintiff made a complaint and Inmate Cooper was removed from his dining hall work assignment. Id.

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations against Defendant Mooney:

1. Violation of 8th Amendment right against cruel and inhumane treatment; abuse of power; intentional infliction of emotional distress; deliberate indifference.
a. Plaintiff was caused pain, suffering, physical injury (loss of one eye), and continuing emotional distress and irreparable harms as the result of the arbitrary and capricious actions of Defendant Mooney in being coerced and/or forced into the drug program (M/TC Block) which was unheated at the time and had no safeguards in place that would guarantee a certain amount of protection for Plaintiff's life and property.

(Doc. 10, pp. 1-2).

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations against Defendant Sedeski:

1. Violation of the 8th Amendment right against deliberate indifference and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
a. Plaintiff was caused suffering and emotional distress as the result of the deliberate indifference of Defendant Sedeski in failing to immediately report his superiors the observation of blood on Plaintiff's face.

(Doc. 10, p. 2).

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations against Defendant McKeown

1. Violation of 1st Amendment right to free speech.
a. Plaintiff was caused irreparable harm, suffering, and intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of Defendant McKeown, s [sic] arbitrary and capricious act of not giving Plaintiff a copy of the inmate version statement and not placing the said copy of the inmate version statement in Plaintiff's institutional record file. Defendant's action has guaranteed that Plaintiff's chance for parole in the future has been effectively sabotaged because the parole board will not have a chance to view Plaintiff's side of the stabbing incident.
2. Violation of 5th Amendment right to due process.
a. Plaintiff was caused irreparable harm, suffering, and emotional distress when he was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, deliberate indifference, abuse of power, and intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of Defendant's actions in conducting the disciplinary hearing on February 6, 2015. Defendant knew Plaintiff was under pain medication because of recent eye surgery; Defendant refused to allow Plaintiff to have access to his eyeglasses and insisted that Plaintiff write out to the best of his ability the Plaintiff's version of the stabbing incident on the Inmate Version Statement Form - DC 141.
b. Because of very poor vision in his remaining eye Plaintiff was compelled to lean over and place his face about two to three inches above the paper and write out his version of the incident. Through extreme effort Plaintiff managed to complete three (3) pages.

(Doc. 10, pp. 2-3).

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations against Defendant Mahally:

1. Violation of 8th amendment right against cruel and inhumane treatment; deliberate indifference.
a. Plaintiff was caused pain, suffering, and emotional distress when Defendant Mahally maintained a prison policy of not allowing Plaintiff to wear a coat or thermal underwear in severe and cold weather while being transported outside hospitals.
b. Plaintiff was caused pain, suffering, and emotional distress when Defendant knew or should have known the M/TC Block was unheated at the time Plaintiff was transferred there.
c. Plaintiff was caused pain, suffering, and emotional distress when Defendant Mahally allowed inmate Quinnmar Cooper to go virtually unpunished for stabbing Plaintiff in the eye which resulted in Plaintiff losing the eye.
d. Plaintiff was caused pain, suffering, and emotional distress when Defendant Mahally refused to turn over to the Plaintiff the medical records of the stabbing incident. The medical records would serve as source material for trial in a court of law ...

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