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Michael Brown v. Ms. Joe Dow Warden At Swsp

October 25, 2011

MICHAEL BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MS. JOE DOW WARDEN AT SWSP, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Renee Marie Bumb United States District Judge

[Dkt. No. 112]

MEMORANDUM ORDER

This matter arises out of the motion of Defendants Smith K. Bey, A. Burnett, and David Vera (collectively "Defendants") for summary judgment.

Pro se Plaintiff Michael Brown ("Plaintiff") claims that, while incarcerated in South Woods State Prison, Defendants -corrections officers at the prison - violated his constitutional rights by applying excessive force. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, following an altercation between Plaintiff and a fellow inmate, after the two had been separated, and at a time when Plaintiff was not "resisting", Defendants "beat" Plaintiff and broke his arm. Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Defendants in both their official and individual capacities.

In their motion, Defendants have attached substantial documentary evidence disputing Plaintiff's account of the events at issue, as well as answers to interrogatories denying Plaintiff's allegations, and a medical report suggesting that Plaintiff's injuries were likely the result of Plaintiff's altercation with the other inmate. Plaintiff's opposition attaches a medical report attesting to his broken arm, prison reports, excerpts from Defendants' pleadings, and copies of complaints Plaintiff filed with the prison system.

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities and DENIED with respect to Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their individual capacities.

I. Background

under

Plaintiff's claims are set forth in his Second Amended Complaint (the "Complaint")*fn1 , which he dated and signed penalty of perjury.*fn2 Defendants' account of the events is consistent with Plaintiff's to a point. They agree that Plaintiff and another inmate were fighting and that they were separated. Their disagreement begins there, however.

Defendants deny "beating" Plaintiff. Defendants contend that Officers Lynch and Mottola, officers not named as defendants in this case, secured Plaintiff following the altercation. Defendants claim that, after Plaintiff refused to comply with orders to put his left arm behind his back, Mottola placed Plaintiff's arm behind his back in order to handcuff him. From there, Lynch and Mottola escorted Plaintiff to detention without incident. They claim that Defendant Bey, along with another officer, secured the other party to the altercation, and then escorted him to detention without incident. According to Defendants, Defendant Burnett responded to an emergency code triggered as the result of the fight, but arrived on the scene after the fight had already concluded and did not assist in securing Plaintiff or escorting him to detention. In Defendants' account of events, Defendant Vera called the emergency code, but did not participate in the events after the altercation, when the two had been separated.

II. Standard

Summary judgment should only be granted if "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). "An issue is genuine only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law." Kaucher v. County of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

In opposing a motion for summary judgment, a litigant may not stand on his pleadings alone, but must instead cite to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only) or other materials in support of their claim. Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure Rule 56(c).

However, a pro se prisoner's signed and dated complaint, made under penalty of perjury, qualifies as a verified complaint, which may be treated as an affidavit in opposition to a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 56, to the extent it sets forth specific facts based on personal knowledge. Neal v. Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 457-58 (D.C. ...


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