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Brown v. May

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 23, 2019

ROLAND K. BROWN, Plaintiff,




         Plaintiff Roland Brown has presented evidence that during his term of incarceration between April 2014 and April 2016 at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (“CFCF”) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, [1] he was triple-celled[2] in violation of his constitutional rights. Defendants Gerald May, Warden of CFCF; Blanche Carney, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Prison System (“PPS”); and Jim Kenney, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, have filed a motion for summary judgment. After review, this Court concludes that Commissioner Carney and Mayor Kenney have shown that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to the personal capacity claims against them because Brown has failed to provide any evidence showing that either Defendant was personally involved in any alleged constitutional violation. While Brown has produced evidence showing that Warden May was personally involved, qualified immunity protects Warden May from being sued in his personal capacity because the contours of the constitutional right were not clearly established. Summary judgment is therefore entered in Defendants' favor on all personal-capacity claims. However, based on Brown's evidence that the City had a custom of triple-celling inmates at CFCF under the specific conditions seen here (two-years in length, continuous lockdowns, unsanitary cells, inmate violence, etc.), a jury could conclude that the City is liable and the official capacity claims against Defendants survive the Motion for Summary Judgment.


         Summary judgment is appropriate “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). A disputed fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 257.

         The 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). Once 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(c); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 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”). 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.

         Where a party fails to oppose a summary judgment motion, the facts may be deemed undisputed. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(3); Anchorage Assocs. v. V.I. Bd. of Tax Review, 922 F.2d 168, 175 (3d Cir. 1990). However, the court must still analyze the motion to determine if summary judgment is appropriate, “that is, whether the moving party has shown itself to be entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Anchorage Assocs., 922 F.2d at 175. “Where the moving party does not have the burden of proof on the relevant issues, . . . the district court must determine that the deficiencies in the opponent's evidence designated in or in connection with the motion entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.” Id. (citing Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. 317).


         Brown initiated this action against Defendants in their individual and official capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On review of the § 1983 complaint and a motion to dismiss, the Court concluded that Brown had alleged sufficient facts to state a claim based on triple-celling but failed to plead sufficient factual details showing each Defendant's personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violation. The Court further determined that “[a]lthough Brown hinted to other possible claims, he failed to allege sufficient facts to support any other independent constitutional claim.” See Opn. 3 n.3 (citing cases). The initial complaint was dismissed, with leave to amend.

         Brown timely filed an Amended Complaint, again asserting a constitutional violation for triple-celling. See ECF No. 17. After an Answer to the Amended Complaint was filed, this Court issued a scheduling Order setting discovery and dispositive motions deadlines. See ECF No. 23. The Order explained, inter alia, that “any opposition to a motion for summary judgment shall include a separate, short, and concise statement of the material facts as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue of fact to be tried” and that “[a]ll facts set forth in the moving party's statement of material facts may be taken by the Court as admitted unless controverted by the opposing party.” See Id. at ¶¶ 3(c), (e).[3]

         On April 22, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, including a memorandum of law, Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, and the deposition of Brown. See ECF No. 37. Brown did not file a brief in opposition to the motion or to the statement of facts. The Court thereafter issued an Order directing Brown to “file a response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, see ECF No. 37, no later than July 3, 2019, or Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts [would] be accepted as true.” See Order, ECF No. 38 (emphasis in original). To date, Brown has not filed any opposition to the summary judgment motion.


         Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, which is limited to four paragraphs, states:

1. Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Philadelphia Prison System (“PPS”) from April 2014-April 2016. See Exhibit A, Plaintiff's Deposition Transcript, at 7:18-8:7.
2. Plaintiff has failed to adduce any evidence showing his constitutional rights were violated at PPS.
3. Plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence regarding the policies or customs of the City of Philadelphia.
4. Plaintiff has no evidence showing that Mayor Kenney, Commissioner Carney, or Warden May were personally involved in violating his constitutional rights, but rather has sued these officials based on a respondeat ...

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