United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an inmate confined in the Smithfield State Correctional
Institution, (“SCI-Smithfield”), Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff names as Defendants
the following SCI-Smithfield employees: Lt. Alan Lidwell and
Correctional Officer Michael McConoughey. Id.
Order dated July 1, 2015 Plaintiff was permitted to proceed
in forma pauperis and process was issued. (Doc. 8).
August 19, 2015, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss
Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim of
denial of access to the courts. (Doc. 14). In response to
Defendants’ motion, Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint. (Doc. 16). Thus, the action proceeds via
Plaintiff’s amended complaint.
Memorandum and Order dated November 21, 2016,
Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s amended
complaint was denied. (Docs. 25, 26).
January 5, 2017, Defendants filed an answer to the complaint.
(Doc. 30). By Order dated January 23, 2017, the above
captioned action was stayed pursuant to the Soldiers and
Sailors Civil Relief Act, and Defendant McConoughey was not
required to respond to any discovery requests or otherwise
participate in the above captioned action until 60 days after
his return from overseas military duty. (Doc. 31).
December 27, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 38). By Order dated April 22, 2019, this
Court lifted its January 23, 2017 stay and directed Plaintiff
to respond to Defendants’ pending motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 44). On May 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a brief
in opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 45). Thus, the motion has been fully
briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that
follow, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment will be
Allegations in the Amended Complaint
October, 2013, Hall was transferred to SCI-Smithfield. (Doc.
16). He alleges that on August 15, 2014, he was sent
to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) with all his property
from his single cell. Id.
August 23, 2014, Plaintiff states that he was “called
out of the RHU cell to inventory his property very late and
was rushed to go through his property do (sic) the late
hour.” Id. After being rushed to go through
the property, the items were packed and Plaintiff was given
confiscated items receipt #23255. Id. The receipt,
which was signed by Defendant McConoughey, reflected “2
boxes legal material and hold pending grievance.”
Id. Plaintiff states that he was “told by the
Officer he needed permission for an extra box for legal
property” and that Plaintiff “wrote for and was
states that he “received a letter from the court
stating that the deadline to file his Amended P.C.R.A. is due
on October 15, 2014.” Id. He claims that
Defendant Lidwell “came to [his] cell for proof of
Plaintiff’s deadline” and “Plaintiff showed
the letter and Lt. Lidwell said another officer will take you
to get the legal property.” Id. Allegedly,
Defendant McConoughey “came to the cell door with one
box of legal property and said he could not give [Plaintiff]
all of [his] legal boxes.” Id. Plaintiff
informed McConoughey that he “needed to go through the
two legal boxes to get what was needed to do his Amended
P.C.R.A. Petition.” Id. Defendant McConoughey
responded “no, Lt. Lidwell said to give you a few
folders from a box and that was his orders.”
October 6, 2014, Plaintiff was released from the RHU and had
an opportunity to explain the situation to Deputy Whitesel,
who informed Plaintiff “that he would look into the
matter and get back with him at a later date.”
claims that “due to C/O McConoughey and Lt. Lidwell
misplacing and not being able to find Plaintiff’s legal
box, Plaintiff was unable to file his Amended P.C.R.A.
petition in a timely manner with the proper issue to be heard
by the court.” Id. Specifically, he states
that “the documents that were lost in the box by the
Defendants were affidavits from witnesses, transcripts and
letters from lawyers that were need[ed] to prove
Plaintiff’s position” that “he meet[s] the
time bar exception standard and how said petition was
states that he “did write the Judge again for an
extension, but her response was ‘You will not be
granted any further extension to file your amended
Plaintiff filed the instant action in which he seeks
compensatory and punitive damages. Id.
Standard of Review
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).
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).
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).
Statement of Undisputed Facts
September 27, 2006, following a jury trial in Philadelphia
County, Pennsylvania, Plaintiff was convicted of the
following offenses under docket number CP-51-CR0108131-2004:
murder of the second degree, robbery-inflict serious bodily
injury; burglary and criminal conspiracy to engage in murder.
(Doc. 42 at 33, Criminal Docket Sheet). On November
21, 2006, the trial court sentenced Hall to a mandatory
sentence of LIFE on the charge of murder of the second
degree, with the burglary and robbery merging with the murder
charge. Id. Plaintiff was sentenced to a 100 to 200
month term of imprisonment on the criminal conspiracy charge,
to run consecutive to the murder sentence. Id.
Post-sentence motions were filed on November 30, 2006 and
denied on April 3, 2007. Id.
April 27, 2007, a notice of appeal was filed at 1135 EDA 2007
in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Id. The
Superior Court denied Plaintiff’s appeal ...