United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JOHN E. JONES III JUDGE.
Albert Singleton (“Singleton”), a state inmate,
filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
on June 12, 2017, alleging that he was transferred from the
State Correctional Institution at Rockview
(“SCI-Rockview”) to the State Correctional
Institution at Smithfield (“SCI-Smithfield”) in
retaliation for filing a Prison Rape Elimination Act
(“PREA”), 42 U.S.C. § 15602, complaint
against Defendant Shearer. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding
via an amended complaint (Doc. 24) which names
Corrections Officer Shearer, Jr. (“Shearer”),
Corrections Officer Miller (“Miller”), and
Hearing Examiner T. Pilosi, now known as Trisha Walter
(“Walter”), as Defendants. (Doc. 95, n.4).
Included in the amended complaint are First, Sixth, Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendment claims, a civil rights conspiracy
claim, and state law claims. (Doc. 24).
is Defendants' motion (Doc. 93) for summary judgment
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion for
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment “should be rendered if the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Turner v.
Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990).
“[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) (emphasis in original); Brown v.
Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Cir. 1990). A
disputed fact is “material” if proof of its
existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the
case under applicable substantive law. Id.; 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).
party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing
the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986);
Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358,
1366 (3d Cir. 1996). Although the moving party must establish
an absence of a genuine issue of material fact, it need not
“support its motion with affidavits or other similar
materials negating the opponent's claim.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). It can meet its
burden by “pointing out ... that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's claims.”
Id. at 325.
such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must go
beyond the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific
material facts which give rise to a genuine issue.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324;
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475
U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (stating that the non-moving party
“must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”);
Wooler v. Citizens Bank, 274 Fed.Appx. 177, 179 (3d
Cir. 2008). The party opposing the motion must produce
evidence to show the existence of every element essential to
its case, which it bears the burden of proving at trial,
because “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 also Harter v.
G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992).
“[T]he non-moving party ‘may not rely merely on
allegations or denials in its own pleadings; rather, its
response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine
issue for trial.'” Picozzi v. Haulderman,
2011 WL 830331, *2 (M.D. Pa. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e)(2)). “Inferences should be drawn in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the
non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's,
then the non-movant's must be taken as true.”
Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America. Inc.,
974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).
non-moving party “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 at trial, ” summary judgment is appropriate.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. The adverse party must
raise “more than a mere scintilla of evidence in its
favor” and cannot survive by relying on unsupported
assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions.
Williams v. Borough of W. Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460
(3d Cir. 1989). The mere existence of some evidence in
support of the non-movant will not be adequate to support a
denial of a motion for summary judgment; there must be enough
evidence to enable a jury to reasonably find for the
non-movant on that issue. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS
December 27, 2016, Singleton verbally reported to PREA
Investigating Lieutenant Eric Selfridge
(“Selfridge”), incidents of sexual harassment by
Defendant Shearer that occurred on December 22, 2016. (Doc.
95, ¶ 1). Selfridge interviewed Singleton on December
29, 2016, and Singleton submitted a written statement
identifying two separate incidents of sexual abuse and
harassment. (Id. at 2). Singleton reported that,
while walking up the stairs, Shearer allegedly stuck his hand
through the bottom of the stairs and touched his foot. (Doc.
93-3, Declaration of Selfridge (“Selfridge
Decl.”), ¶ 9). The second incident occurred later
that evening. (Id. at 10). Specifically, Singleton
reported that Shearer approached him on A-Unit 4 range and
made inappropriate comments. (Id.).
reviewing camera footage of the stairwell, Selfridge
concluded that the allegation was inconclusive and would not
be investigated further. (Id. at 11). Seflridge made
Singleton aware of this conclusion during the interview.
(Id. at 12). Following review of the camera footage
of the A-Unit 4 range incident, which depicted Shearer having
a conversation with Singleton, Selfridge launched an
investigation into the allegation of sexual harassment.
(Id. at 13). Singleton did not have any witnesses.
(Id. at 14). He did, however, indicate that he
reported the A-Unit 4 range incident to Lieutenant Monoskey
(“Monoskey”) on December 23, 2016, while they
were in the yard. (Doc. 93-3, Selfridge Decl., ¶17).
Because there was no allegation of physical contact, Shearer
remained on Singleton's housing unit during the
investigation. (Id. at 15).
limited disclosure of Singleton's complaints to his
designated supervisors and individuals necessary to assist in
investigating the claims. (Id. at 16). He
interviewed Monoskey on December 29, 2016, who confirmed that
Singleton did approach him but did not provide specific
details; Monoskey advised Singleton to contact Selfridge.
(Id. at 18). Selfridge was unable to interview
Defendant Shearer until January 23, 2017. (Id. at
25). When interviewed, Shearer stated that at the time of the
incident he was assigned to A-Unit on December 22, 2016. He
admitted to having a conversation with Singleton about what
Singleton was doing on the 4 range when he lived on 5 range.
(Id. at 26). Shearer stated that at no time did he
say anything inappropriate to Singleton. (Id.)
February 17, 2017, Selfridge notified Singleton that his
allegation of sexual harassment was unsubstantiated due to
insufficient evidence to prove his version of events.
(Id. at 28).
Shearer did not become aware of the PREA complaint against
him until the January 23, 2017 interview with Selfridge.
(Doc. 93-3, Selfridge Decl., ¶ 25). Defendants Miller
and Walter were not aware that Singleton filed a PREA
complaint until they read his complaint. (Doc. 93-8,
Declaration of Officer Zachary Miller (“Miller
Decl.”) ¶ 5; Doc. 93-9, Declaration of Trisha
(Pilosi) Walter (“Walter Decl.”) ¶ 16).
January 2, 2017 Assault
alleges that upon returning to his cell on January 2, 2017,
unknown inmates attacked him and left him bleeding on his
cell floor. (Doc. 24, ¶¶ 36, 38). Allegedly, one of
the inmates stated “Don't kill him, Shearer just
said f--- him up.” (Id. at 37). He alleges
that he saw the silhouette of a corrections officer during
the assault who stated “don't tell…take it
like a man.” (Id. at 38). He now contends,
that witnesses are “clearly willing to testify that
Defendant Shearer was the officer who stood by and watched
several inmates assault [him]….” (Id.).
Singleton did ...