United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before me is Magistrate Judge Arbuckle's Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. 202) regarding
Defendants Rackovan, Somich, and Granlund's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 155). Plaintiff Abdel Fattah, a
prisoner at SCI Rockview, claims that Rackovan, Somich, and
Granlund (the “Defendants”) violated his civil
rights. The Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing
that Fattah failed to exhaust administrative remedies at the
prison and that Fattah has not produced evidence supporting
his claims. (See Doc. 158). I will adopt Magistrate
Judge Arbuckle's Report and Recommendation in full, as
the Defendants did not violate Fattah's constitutional
rights to adequate medical care and safe conditions of
confinement under the Eighth Amendment. The Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment will therefore be granted.
parties are familiar with the facts, so I provide here only a
brief background. (I will address additional facts as they
become relevant to my analysis of Fattah's specific
objections.) During the time period relevant to this action,
Fattah was an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at
Rockview (“SCI-Rockview”). (See Doc.
119, at 3).While incarcerated, Fattah developed an eating
disorder, and as a result, had a feeding tube implanted.
(See Doc. 196-2). Fattah filed grievances regarding
a number of matters during his time at SCI Rockview, which
can be categorized two ways: medical grievances and
grievances about the conditions of his confinement,
i.e., detention in a suicide cell. (See
Doc. 196-7, at 4-6). Fattah's medical grievances stated,
inter alia, Somich and other members of the medical
staff at SCI-Rockview did not: (1) provide his medication
with milk as instructed by his medical provider, Dr. Symons,
(2) administer his medication on schedule, causing pain and
vomiting, or (3) use sanitary syringes to complete his
gastric feedings. (See Id. at 4-5). In
Fattah's confinement grievances, he alleged, inter
alia, Granlund placed him in a suicide cell and clothed
him in a suicide smock. (See Id. at 5-6).
Accordingly, Fattah filed this action. (See Doc. 1).
has since amended his complaint three times, and the
operative complaint is the Third Amended Complaint.
(See Doc. 119). After a lengthy period of motions
practice, only two causes of action remain, i.e.,
the Defendants violated Fattah's Eighth Amendment right
to medical care and Eighth Amendment right to safe conditions
of confinement. (See Docs. 35, 61, 144, 145). The
only remaining Defendants in this case are: Rackovan, Somich,
Granlund, and Dr. Symons. (See id.).
Defendants moved for summary judgment in December 2017,
filing a Brief in Support (Doc. 158) and a Statement of Facts
(Doc. 159). In response, Fattah filed a Brief in Opposition
(Doc. 180-1), and a two page response to the Defendants'
Statement of Facts (Doc. 179). When the Defendants failed to
comply with one of the Middle District of Pennsylvania's
Local Rules, Magistrate Judge Arbuckle, acting sua
sponte, gave the Defendants leave to file compliant
evidentiary exhibit indices in support of their Motions for
Summary Judgment. (See Docs. 173). The Defendants
timely did so. (See Docs. 176-78). In answering the
Defendants' Statements of Facts, however, Fattah also
failed to comply with one of the Middle District of
Pennsylvania's Local Rules. (See Doc. 179). In
light of this error, Magistrate Judge Arbuckle, proceeded to
issue a Report and Recommendation granting the
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, which rested
upon deeming Defendants' facts admitted. (See
Doc. 187 at 40).
rejected Magistrate Judge Arbuckle's Report and
Recommendation after concluding that it was inequitable for
the Defendants to receive a chance to remedy a failure to
comply with the Local Rules when Fattah was not afforded the
same opportunity. (Doc. 193). I granted Fattah a similar
opportunity to cure his noncompliance with Local Rule 56.1
and recommitted the matter to Magistrate Judge Arbuckle for
further proceedings. (See Doc. 193). Fattah timely
complied. (See Docs. 194-196). Magistrate Judge
Arbuckle proceeded to recommend that summary judgment be
granted in favor of the Defendants, because Fattah has not
demonstrated as a matter of law any violation of either his
Eighth Amendment right to medical care or his Eighth
Amendment right to safe conditions of confinement.
(See Doc. 202). Fattah objected to the Report and
Recommendation. (See Doc. 203). The Report and
Recommendation and the objection is thus now ripe for review.
Review of the R&R
objections to a magistrate judge's R&R are filed, I
must conduct a de novo review of the R&R's
contested portions. Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099,
1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C)). I may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the
magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Owens v. Beard, 829 F.Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa.
1993). Although the review is de novo, the law
permits me to rely on the recommendations of the magistrate
judge to the extent I deem it proper. See United States
v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980). Uncontested
portions of the report may be reviewed at a standard
determined by the district court. See Thomas v. Arn,
474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985). At the least, courts should review
uncontested portions for clear error or manifest injustice.
See, e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F.Supp. 375, 376-77
(M.D. Pa. 1998).
judgment shall be granted “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 court may grant a motion for
summary judgment if, after it considers all probative
materials of record, with inferences drawn in favor of the
non-moving party, the court is satisfied that there are no
genuine issues of material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Chavarriaga v. N.J.
Dep't of Corrs., 806 F.3d 210, 218 (3d Cir. 2015)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 2556, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Brooks v.
Kyler, 204 F.3d 102, 105 n.5 (3d Cir. 2000)). “A
fact is ‘material' under Rule 56 if its existence
or nonexistence might impact the outcome of the suit under
the applicable substantive law. A dispute over a material
fact is ‘genuine' if ‘a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'”
Santini v. Fuentes, 795 F.3d 410, 416 (3d Cir. 2015)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).
“In determining whether the dispute is genuine, the
court's function is not to weigh the evidence or to
determine the truth of the matter . . . .” American
Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 587,
581 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505).
moving party bears the initial burden to identify
“specific portions of the record that establish the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Santini, 795 F.3d at 416 (citing Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553). If this burden is
satisfied by the movant, the burden then “shifts to the
nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and ‘come
forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.'” Id. (quoting
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538
(1986)). The nonmovant's burden is not satisfied by
“simply show[ing] that there is some metaphysical doubt
as to the material facts.” Chavarriaga, 806
F.3d at 218.
explained by Magistrate Judge Arbuckle, the operative
complaint is best construed as asserting the following claims
against the Defendants: (1) Rackovan is liable for the
allegedly unconstitutional acts committed by Somich,
Granlund, and other DOC staff members as a
“supervisor” who had actual knowledge of and
acquiesced to the conduct of his subordinates (See
Doc. 202, at 13-14), (2) Somich is liable for violating
Fattah's Eighth Amendment right to medical care
(See Doc. 202, at 14-15), and (3) Granlund is liable
for violating Fattah's Eighth Amendment right to safe
conditions of confinement (See Doc. 202, at