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Giehl v. Lanigan

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 15, 2017

RICHARD B. GIEHL, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY M. LANIGAN, et al., . Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PETER G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment brought by Defendant, Officer Kelsey Russell (ECF No. 28) for Plaintiff's failure to comply with The Prison Litigation Reform Act.

         This claim arises from an alleged civil rights violation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 in which Plaintiff, a former inmate, claims that Defendant, a correction officer, violated his Eight Amendment rights. Plaintiff, Richard B. Giehl, was an inmate within the New Jersey Department of Corrections; however, he has since been released. (See Exhibit-A). There are two dramatically different recounts of the alleged incident; but the motion focuses on the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Suffice it to say, on November 7, 2013 there was a physical encounter between Corrections Officer Kelsey Russell and Plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff filed this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.

         The Inmate Handbook

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff did not follow the procedures set forth in the Inmate Handbook, and therefore the PLRA bars this suit. Parties disagree as to whether Plaintiff received an Inmate Handbook upon his arrival to the Garden State facility. Defendant argues that Plaintiff was issued an Inmate Handbook when he was incarcerated at the Central Reception and Assignment facility. (See Exhibit F.) However, the only signed proofs of handbook delivery are dated to 2014 and 2015, after the incident. According to the “Inmate Handbook for Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, ” revised on September 2013, a prisoner “must submit a written form within ten (10) business days of the date of the incident/issue of complaint occurred, unless it is not possible to file within such period.” [Handbook, pg. 66].

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) when the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the evidence establishes the moving party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant, and it is material if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). 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. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

         Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the party opposing the motion must establish that a genuine issue as to a material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Lacey Twp., 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir. 1985). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment cannot rest on mere allegations and instead must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Siegel Transfer, Inc. v. Carrier Express, Inc., 54 F.3d 1125, 1130-31 (3d Cir. 1995). “[U]nsupported allegations . . . and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment.” Schoch v. First Fidelity Bancorp., 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (requiring nonmoving party to “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial”). Moreover, only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under governing law will preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. If a court determines, Aafter drawing all inferences in favor of [the non-moving party], and making all credibility determinations in his favor “that no reasonable jury could find for him, summary judgment is appropriate.” Alevras v. Tacopina, 226 Fed. App'x. 222, 227 (3d Cir. 2007).

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, § 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a District Court to screen a complaint in a civil action in which a Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis or a prisoner is seeking redress against a government employee or entity, and to sua sponte dismiss any claim if the Court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A.

         Section 1997e(a) includes a procedural default component. Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 222 (3d Cir. 2004); See Spada v. Martinez, 579 Fed.Appx. 82, 85, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 15805, *6, 2014 WL 4056924 (3d Cir. Pa. Aug. 18, 2014). PLRA mandates that inmates first exhaust all administrative remedies prior to filing an action challenging prison conditions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Small v. Camden County, 728 F.3d 265, 269 (2013)

         Section 1997e of the PLRA states:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as available are exhausted. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.

         As indicated by Congress' language in this statute, the exhaustion requirement is not a technicality, rather it is federal law which federal district courts are required to follow. Nyhuis v. Reno,204 F.3d 65, 73 (3d Cir. 2000). The Third Circuit held, “it is beyond the power of this court -- or any other -- to excuse compliance with the exhaustion requirement, whether the ground of ...


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