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Williams v. Clark

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 7, 2020




         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Shawn L. Williams commenced this §1983 action alleging that certain Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) officials at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania (SCI-Albion) violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the Defendants' motion.[1]

         II. Relevant Procedural History

         Williams filed this lawsuit alleging that the Defendants violated his rights during a series of incidents at SCI-Albion between May 8, 2015 and December 12, 2015. See ECF Nos. 4, 20, 26. As Defendants, Williams named twenty-one members of both the1 DOC and private medical providers at SCI-Albion. Id. By Orders dated November 14, 2018, and January 3, 2018, the Court dismissed all claims against ten of these Defendants. The remaining eleven Defendants are employees of the DOC. The remaining Defendants are: Sergeant Beddick, a corrections officer at SCI-Albion, Nancy A. Giroux, former Superintendent and Facilities Manager at SCI-Albion, Michael R. Clark, current SCI-Albion Superintendent and Facilities Manager, Carl Franz, SCI-Albion Deputy Superintendent, Christopher M. Meure, an SCI-Albion corrections officer holding the rank of Major, Trevor Irwin, an SCI-Albion corrections officer holding the rank of Captain and the title of Shift Commander, Earl J. Jones, an SCI-Albion corrections officer holding the rank of Captain, "T." Anderson, an SCI-Albion corrections officer holding the rank of Security Lieutenant, Tammy Bashor, SCI-Albion PREA Coordinator, Ryan Szelewski a Hearing Examiner at SCI-Albion, and Valerie Kusiak, SCI-Albion's PREA Compliance Officer.

         Williams' current claims arise primarily from Sergeant Beddick's alleged conduct. Against him, Williams asserts a conditions of confinement claim, a sexual harassment claim, a retaliation claim, an excessive force claim, and a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Williams asserts a due process claim against Hearing Examiner Szelewski. Against all other Defendants, Williams claims that they failed to protect him from the actions allegedly taken by Beddick.

         After discovery, the remaining Defendants moved for summary judgment. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

         III. Factual Background

         At all relevant times, Williams was incarcerated at SCI-Albion. On May 8, 2015, Beddick denied Williams access to a shower. ECF No. 95-1, Ex. 12, p. 9-11. Williams did not file a grievance regarding this incident. ECF No. 113, ¶ 2; ECF No. 96, ¶ 2. Beddick whistled, blew kisses, and winked at Williams on a regular basis. ECF No. 95-1, Ex. 12, p. 17-22. Williams filed a grievance alleging that on June 24, 2015, Beddick blew kisses, winked, and whistled at him. ECF No. 96, ¶ 3. The grievance was investigated by Bashor as a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) complaint. Id. Bashor interviewed Williams on November 3, 2015. ECF No. 112, ¶ 31. Bashor's PREA investigation concluded that Williams' allegations were unsubstantiated. ECF No. 96, ¶ 4.

         On August 7, 2015, non-party CO. Wells issued Williams a misconduct for allegedly making threatening statements to him during a random pat-down. ECF No. 96, ¶ 10. Williams was found guilty by Szelewski and sentenced to 30 days of disciplinary custody time. Id. at ¶ 10.

         On October 31, 2015, between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m., Williams states that he was preparing to conduct his morning prayers, when he heard Beddick making anti-Islamic comments around the Diversionary Treatment Unit. ECF No. 112, ¶ 23-24. Beddick then arrived at Williams' cell and allegedly stated, "right Williams? I'm out to kill Allah's people, so how can I believe in Allah?" Id. at ¶ 25. Williams requested a grievance form, but Beddick refused to provide one, allegedly stating, "you should already have one since you love to write them so much." Id. at ¶ 26. Later that day, Beddick issued Williams a misconduct for threatening him and using abusive language during their interaction earlier that day. ECF No. 96, ¶ 13. Williams was later found guilty by Szelewski and sentenced to 30 days of disciplinary custody time. Id. at ¶ 10.

         On December 12, 2015, Beddick was escorting Williams to a medical appointment. Williams attests that Beddick tightened his handcuffs to the point of causing pain and one or more small cuts to his wrist and that Beddick pinched his arm and then twisted the handcuffs in a painful way when removing them. ECF No. 112, ¶ 39-47; ECF No. 96, ¶ 18. Williams wrist bled and he was provided band-aids. Id.

         IV. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) requires a court to enter 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). "[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). A disputed fact is "material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id. 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 Bhd. of Carpenters and Joiners of Am., 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).

         When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact remains for trial, the court must view the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Moore v. Tartler, 986 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1993); Clement v. Consol. Rail Corp., 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d Cir. 1992); White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). To defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment, however, the nonmoving party may not rest on the unsubstantiated allegations of his or her pleadings. When the party seeking summary judgment satisfies its burden under Rule 56 of identifying evidence which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party is required by Rule 56 to go beyond his pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). 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). When Rule 56 shifts the burden of production to the nonmoving party, that party must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case which it bears 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 also Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992).

         V. Analysis and Discussion

         A. Denial of a Shower on May 8, 2015

         Beddick argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on this claim because, even accepting Williams' factual assertions as true, the denial of a single shower does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Beddick also argues that because Williams did not file a grievance regrading this incident, he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The Court agrees on both points.

         First, courts within the Third Circuit have uniformly held that "the denial of showers for a temporary period of time does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation." Barndt v. Wenerowicz, 698 Fed.Appx. 673, 677 (3d Cir. 2017) (per curiam); Fortune v. Hamberger, 379 Fed. App. 116, 122 (3d Cir. 2010) (denial of 15 days of showers does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation); see also Rodriguez v. Thomas,299 F.Supp.3d 618, 639 (M.D. Pa. 2018) ("The Eighth Amendment does not require that prisoners be afforded frequent or comfortable showers."); Robinson v. Danberg,729 F.Supp.2d 666, 683 (D. Del. 2010) (finding that denial of a shower on a one-time basis, without more, did not deprive plaintiff of the "minimal civilized measures of life's necessities"); Moneyham v. United States, 2019 WL 6817380, at *6 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 19, 2019), report and recommendation adopted, 2019 WL 6826501 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 12, 2019). In the present case, Williams asserts that he was denied a shower on a single occasion, and nothing in the record supports that this ...

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