United States District Court, D. New Jersey
RASHFORD E. GALLOWAY, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
RASHFORD E. GALLOWAY P.O. BOX 12 OVER RIVER ORANGE SIGN POST
OFFICE ST. JAMES, JA WEST INDIES  APPEARING PRO SE
KRISTIN LYNN VASSALLO OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY DISTRICT OF
NEW JERSEY 970 BROAD STREET NEWARK, N.J. 07102 ON BEHALF OF
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter concerns claims by Plaintiff against the Federal
Bureau of Prisons that his assignment to a third-floor cell
while he was incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix aggravated his back
injury, causing him further injury. For the reasons expressed
below, Defendant's motion will be granted.
Rashford Galloway, arrived at FCI Fort Dix in February 2007.
In November 2012, Plaintiff was assigned to a two-person cell
on the third floor of Building 5752 in the east compound of
Fort Dix, and in to travel between floors, inmates used one
of two staircases. On November 29, 2012, Plaintiff was
walking up one of the stairwells in Building 5752 carrying a
bag from the commissary. As he climbed from the second to the
third floor, Plaintiff's knee “gave out” due
to shooting pain, which caused him to fall backwards and hit
his back and hip on the stairs.
does not allege that Defendant is liable for his
fall. Rather, he contends that Defendant's
failure to relocate him to a first-floor cell after his fall
exacerbated his back injury. Plaintiff remained in his
third-floor cell from the date of his fall until his transfer
on October 29, 2013 to another institution. During most of
that time, Plaintiff used a wheelchair and cane to get around
the prison. Plaintiff claims that having to go up and down
three flights of stairs multiple times a day, often on his
hands and knees, made his back injury worse, and constituted
cruel and unusual punishment.
has moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff has
not provided any evidence to support his contention that the
location of his cell on the third floor aggravated his back
injury. Defendant further argues that Plaintiff has not
provided any evidence to refute Defendant's expert, who
reviewed Plaintiff's medical records and determined that
the medical records establish that Plaintiff's condition
actually improved during his course of treatment for the
injuries he sustained in the fall. Thus, Defendant argues
that it is entitled to judgment in its favor on
Plaintiff's negligence claim.
has opposed Defendant's motion,  and argues that Defendant
was negligent in Plaintiff being forced to remain in a
third-floor cell, where at times he had to crawl on his hands
and knees to get to and from his cell, and that such
circumstances also constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
Defendant has construed Plaintiff's complaint to only
assert a claim of negligence, but argues that even if
Plaintiff's complaint could be read to assert a claim for
an Eighth Amendment violation, it would fail because the
United States has not waived its sovereign immunity for this
constitutional tort claim, and because Plaintiff has failed
to exhaust his administrative remedies, which is a
jurisdictional prerequisite for prisoners before filing suit
for constitutional claims.
Subject matter jurisdiction
Plaintiff has lodged his negligence claim against the United
States, the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1)
(“[T]he district courts . . . shall have exclusive
jurisdiction of civil actions on claims against the United
States, for money damages, accruing on and after January 1,
1945, for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or
death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of
any employee of the Government while acting within the scope
of his office or employment, under circumstances where the
United States, if a private person, would be liable to the
claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the
act or omission occurred.”).
Standard for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that the
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations, admissions, or interrogatory
answers, demonstrate 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. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
issue is “genuine” if it is supported by evidence
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the
nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is
“material” if, under the governing substantive
law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the
suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary
judgment, a district court may not make credibility
determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence;
instead, the non-moving party's evidence “is to be
believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor.” Marino v. Industrial Crating Co.,
358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting Anderson,
477 U.S. at 255).
the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party
has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by
affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a
properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving
party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence
that contradict those offered by the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing
summary judgment must do more than just rest upon mere
allegations, general denials, or vague statements.
Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir.