United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Susan D. Wigenton, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on remaining Defendant Sherry
Yates' motion for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 66).
Plaintiff failed to respond to the motion or file a statement
of material facts in dispute. (ECF Docket Sheet). Also before
the Court is Plaintiff's motion seeking a preliminary
injunction (ECF No. 60), to which Defendant has responded.
(ECF No. 67). For the reasons set forth below, this Court
will grant Defendant's summary judgment motion, will
enter judgment in favor of Defendant Yates as to all of
Plaintiff's remaining claims, and will deny
Plaintiff's motion seeking a preliminary injunction.
Plaintiff David Carson has failed to oppose or otherwise dispute
Defendant's statement of material facts not in dispute
submitted in support of Defendant's motion for summary
judgment (Document 2 attached to ECF No. 66), this Court
considers Defendant's statement of facts undisputed and
admitted for the purposes of this opinion. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e)(2); Local Civil R. 56.1. The following facts are thus
drawn from Defendant's statement of material facts and
Plaintiff's statements during his deposition.
is currently involuntarily civilly committed as a sexually
violent predator (SVP) at the Special Treatment Unit (STU) in
Avenel, New Jersey. (Document 2 attached to ECF No. 66 at 1).
Plaintiff has been committed as an SVP since July 1999.
(Id.). Although Plaintiff's prospects for
release from the STU depend upon his completing treatment,
Plaintiff is currently refusing treatment, and is therefore
housed in the STU's South Unit. (Id. at 2). The
section of the STU in which Plaintiff is housed - which is
composed of a North, South, East, and West unit and houses a
few hundred civil committees - has three washing machines and
three dryers. (Id.; Document 6 attached to ECF No.
66 at 4-5). Beginning in 2014, those machines began to
periodically break down. (Document 6 attached to ECF No. 66
at 7). Plaintiff contends that these breakdowns are
indicative of “just negligence” on the part of
the STU as the STU “wasted money on [repeated] repairs
[rather] than outright just buying a new . . .
machine.” (Id. at 8). Plaintiff admits,
however, that the facility continues to repair machines as
they break down. (Id.; Document 2 attached to ECF
No. 66 at 2). The longest period of time during which
Plaintiff could recall one of the machines being broken was
“three months straight, ” and Plaintiff testified
that once briefly only two washing machines and one dryer
were functional. (Id.; Document 6 attached to ECF
No. 66 at 5). Generally, however, repairs to nonfunctioning
machines occurred either within a couple of days of break
downs or between ten and fifteen days in extreme cases.
(Document 6 attached to ECF No. 66 at 18). During his
deposition, Plaintiff testified that the laundry problems
were exacerbated by his fellow SVPs who worked in the laundry
room who showed favoritism towards some committees and
ignored clothing from others when limited machines were
available. (Id. 10-11). The longest period Plaintiff
had gone without freshly laundered clothes as a result of
these machine breakdowns and favoritism was “a week at
the most.” (Id. at 15).
addition to washing machines operated by SVP attendants,
Plaintiff explained during his deposition that many SVPs,
himself included, also handwashed their clothes and then hung
them to dry on hooks in their rooms. (Id. at 15-16).
Although these hooks were temporarily removed by security
personnel during room searches, Plaintiff placed his hooks
back on the wall and began using them to dry his hand washed
clothes once more. (Id. at 12). Regardless,
Plaintiff contends that the laundry issues both caused him to
occasionally have to wear dirty clothing and also resulted in
dirty laundry being present in the STU, which contributed a
rank smell to the facility. Smell aside, however, Plaintiff
never suffered any illness or injury as a result of the
laundry issues, and denied suffering any sever emotional
distress, stating that if he said that he had suffered any
such issue he'd “be lying, ” stating that he
was simply “tired” of dealing with laundry
issues. (Id. at 17).
this Court's granting in part of Defendants' motions
to dismiss, only a single named Defendant remains in this
matter - Sherry Yates, who was the administrator of the STU
at the time that the laundry issues about which Plaintiff
complains took place. At his deposition, Plaintiff testified
that Ms. Yates was the “administrator” of the STU
who “respond[s] to . . . grievances and stuff like
that, ” but whose main job was to “oversee all
functions of the institution.” (Id. at 12).
Plaintiff therefore contends she had a duty to “make
sure everything is functioning properly.”
(Id.). Yates, however, was not responsible for
employing SVPs as laundry workers, and by Plaintiff's own
admission did not assign the workers who Plaintiff believes
improperly favored some of his co-residents. (Id.).
Although Plaintiff never complained to her about the laundry
issues or otherwise raise them to her attention, he believes
she must have seen some of the dirty laundry during her tours
of the facility “twice a week.” (Id. at
to Rule 56, a court should grant a motion for summary
judgment where the record “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). The moving party bears the initial burden of
“identifying those portions of the pleadings
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323 (1986). A factual dispute is material “if it bears
on an essential element of the plaintiff's claim, ”
and is genuine if “a reasonable jury could find in
favor of the non-moving party.” Blunt v. Lower
Merion School Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 265 (3d Cir. 2014).
In deciding a motion for summary judgment a district court
must “view the underlying facts and all reasonable
inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion, ” Id., but must not make
credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the
evidence. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986). “Where the record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, [however, ] there is no genuine issue for
trial.” Matsuhita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
the moving party has met this initial burden, the burden
shifts to the non-moving party who must provide evidence
sufficient to establish that a reasonable jury could find in
the non-moving party's favor to warrant the denial of a
summary judgment motion. Lawrence v. Nat'l
Westminster Bank New Jersey, 98 F.3d 61, 65 (3d Cir.
1996); Serodio v. Rutgers, 27 F.Supp.3d 546, 550
(D.N.J. 2014). “A nonmoving party has created a genuine
issue of material fact if it has provided sufficient evidence
to allow a jury to find in its favor at trial. However, the
party opposing the motion for summary judgment cannot rest on
mere allegations, instead it must present actual evidence
that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for
trial.” Serodio, 27 F.Supp.3d at 550.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)(2) and Local Civil
Rule 56.1, where, as here, the moving party files a proper
statement of material facts and the non-moving party fails to
file a responsive statement of disputed material facts, this
Court is free to consider the moving party's statement of
material facts undisputed and therefore admitted for the
purposes of resolving the motion for summary judgment.
See, e.g., Ruth v. Sel. Ins. Co., No. 15-2616, 2017
WL 592146, at *2-3 (D.N.J. Feb. 14, 2017). Even where the
defendants' statement of material facts is deemed
admitted and unopposed, a district court is still required to
“satisfy itself that summary judgment is proper because
there are no genuine disputes of material fact and that
[Defendants are] entitled to judgment as a matter of
law” in order to grant summary judgment. Id.
At 2 (citing Anchorage Assocs. v. Virgin Islands Bd. Of
Tax Review, 922 F.2d 168, 175 (3d Cir. 1990)).
sole remaining Defendant in this matter, former STU
administrator Sherry Yates, moves for summary judgment as to
Plaintiff's claims. In his complaint, Plaintiff raised
two claims - a claim that the laundry issues at the STU
amounted to an unconstitutional condition of confinement in
violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment and its state equivalent, and that Defendant had
improperly used funds from a resident welfare fund to pay for
laundry repairs. As Plaintiff himself denied that any
resident welfare fund money was used to pay for those
repairs, (Document 6 attached to ECF No. 66 at 14), there is
clearly no ...