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LILES v. CAMDEN COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

October 1, 2002

CHARLES LILES AND DARON JOSEPHS, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
CAMDEN COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DAVID S. OWENS, JR., AND EDWARD T. MCDONNELL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stephen M. Orlofsky, United States District Judge

      OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

In their original pro se Complaint, Plaintiffs Charles Liles ("Liles") and Daron Josephs ("Josephs") allege a number of inadequate prison conditions that violated their Eighth Amendment rights. Defendants, Warden David S. Owens ("Owens") and Freeholder Edward T. McDonnell ("McDonnell")*fn1, move for summary judgment on the Complaint filed against them. Only one of Plaintiffs' claims, alleging violence among inmates that broke out when urine splashed on inmates who slept on cell floors next to toilets, presents any genuine question of material fact. Thus, for the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment shall be granted in part and denied in part.

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Incarceration of Liles and Josephs

Both Liles and Josephs were incarcerated at CCCF. Liles has spent time in CCCF on approximately five different occasions, see Tr. of Charles Liles Dep. 5/25/00 ("Liles Tr.") 58:23-25, most recently from September 1998 until September of 1999, id. 59:9-12. Josephs was incarcerated at CCCF from December 1997 to April 2000. See Pls.' 56.1 Statement at 3. Both Liles and Josephs allege that they were deprived of their constitutional rights during their incarceration at CCCF, based on:

having to sleep on the floor of their cells on thin mattresses, which caused back pain, see Am. Compl. ¶ D; Liles Tr. 80:9-16; Tr. of Daron Josephs Dep. 1/29/02 ("Josephs Tr.") 42:5-9, 43:3 to 44:16;
only receiving two sheets and one blanket, and not receiving a pillow, despite the cool temperature in CCCF cells, see Am. Compl. ¶ F; Liles Tr. 80:19-24, 104:22 to 105:8; Josephs Tr. at 74:17-25;
having to take meals on dirty, "smelly" trays, see Am. Compl. ¶ G; Liles Tr. 80:25 to 81:6; Josephs Tr. 60:24 to 61:19;
receiving spoiled food on one occasion, see Am. Compl. ¶ G; Liles Tr. 81:7-14, 87:1-13, 93:5 to 94:2; Josephs Tr. 61:20 to 63:10;
having to use dirty showers covered in fungus that caused Plaintiffs to break out in rashes, see Liles Tr. 81:16 to 82:11; Josephs Tr. 49:17 to 53:8;
receiving inadequate medical care, see Am. Compl. ¶¶ H, I; Liles Tr. 82:12 to 83:19, 143:15 to 146:21, 166:13-21; Josephs Tr. 64:1 to 67:7;
having to sleep on the floor near the commode, such that plaintiffs were splashed by urine and water and awakened by the sounds of the toilet flushing, see Am. Compl. ¶ C; Liles Tr. 84:7-19, 114:22 to 116:11, 122:3 to 123:12; Josephs Tr. 31:25 to 32:9, 75:18 to 76:18;
not getting adequate access to the law library, see Liles Tr. at 85:7-10, 136:21 to 139:15; Josephs Tr. 76:19 to 78:6;
being subjected to a lockdown from June 1st to June 22nd of 1999, during which they were permitted to leave their cells for only twenty minutes a day, see Am. Compl. ¶ E; Liles Tr. 85:12 to 86:11, 129:13-18; Josephs Tr. 56:22 to 60:5;
not having enough storage space for clothes, see Am. Compl. ¶ A; Liles Tr. 86:17-22; and
not being allowed to send their blankets to a laundry service, which caused them to develop rashes and infections from fungus, see Am. Compl. ¶¶ B, J; Liles Tr. 147:3 to 148:13; Josephs Tr. 47:10 to 49:13.

C. Procedural History

On July 29, 1999, Plaintiffs filed their first Complaint, which I dismissed for failure to state a claim. See Order, Liles, et al. v. Camden County Dep't of Corr., Civ. A. No. 99-3311(SMO) (D.N.J. July 29, 1999). I granted Plaintiffs leave to file an Amended Complaint within thirty days, which Plaintiffs did on August 12, 1999. Because Liles and Josephs filed their Complaint pro se, I have liberally construed their Complaint, which is fashioned as a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on deprivations of their Eighth Amendment rights.*fn2 This court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1343 (2002).

Defendants moved for summary judgment on the Amended Complaint on July 7, 2000. This Court denied the motion without prejudice on January 19, 2001. On that same date Lawrence Lustberg, Esq., of the law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C., was appointed as pro bono counsel to represent Liles and Josephs.*fn3 Defendants now move, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), for summary judgment on the Amended Complaint.

III. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The legal standard governing summary judgment is well-settled. Summary judgment is proper only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) (West 2002); see also Anderson v. Consol. Rail Corp. ("Conrail"), 297 F.3d 242, 247 (3d Cir. 2002). An issue is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Conrail, 297 F.3d at 247 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A fact is material if it bears on an essential element of the plaintiff's claim. Abraham v. Raso, 183 F.3d 279, 287 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-251). Thus, to survive a motion for summary judgment, the party contesting the motion must demonstrate a dispute over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit. Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250-52).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. In evaluating the evidence, the court must "view the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Curley v. Klem, 298 F.3d 271, 276-77 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Bartnicki v. Vopper, 200 F.3d 109, 114 (3d Cir. 1999)); see also Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Notwithstanding this deference towards the non-movant, "[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [movant]'s position will be insufficient" to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

Summary judgment is proper "if after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, a 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 of proof at trial." Conrail, 297 F.3d at 247 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)).

After one party has filed a properly supported summary judgment motion, the party opposing it must present sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find in its favor. Groman, 47 F.3d at 633 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250-52). Moreover, "[w]hen a motion for summary judgment is made and supported . . . an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." ...


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