675 Fed.Appx. 145 (3rd Cir. 2017), 16-2017, Shumanis v. Lehigh County
|Citation:||675 Fed.Appx. 145|
|Opinion Judge:||HORNAK, District Judge.|
|Party Name:||CHARLES SHUMANIS, Appellant v. LEHIGH COUNTY; WARDEN DALE MIESEL; WARDEN JANINE DONATE; SERGEANT ERIC SABORSKY; SERGEANT RONALD MARCH; CORRECTION OFFICER ERIC NOWICKI|
|Attorney:||For CHARLES SHUMANIS, Plaintiff - Appellant: Frank P. Murphy, Esq., Murphy & Dengler, Norristown, PA. For COUNTY OF LEHIGH, DALE MIESEL, JANINE DONATE, ERIC SABORSKY, RONALD MARCH, ERIC NOWICKI, Defendants - Appellees: Stuart T. Shmookler, Esq., Gross McGinley, Allentown, PA.|
|Judge Panel:||Before: McKEE and RESTREPO, Circuit Judges, and HORNAK,[*] District Judge.|
|Case Date:||January 18, 2017|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit|
Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) November 8, 2016
This opinion is not regarded as Precedents which bind the court under Third Circuit Internal Operating Procedure Rule 5.7. (See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1)
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA. (D.C. No. 5-14-cv-06560). District Judge: Honorable Edward G. Smith.
For CHARLES SHUMANIS, Plaintiff - Appellant: Frank P. Murphy, Esq., Murphy & Dengler, Norristown, PA.
For COUNTY OF LEHIGH, DALE MIESEL, JANINE DONATE, ERIC SABORSKY, RONALD MARCH, ERIC NOWICKI, Defendants - Appellees: Stuart T. Shmookler, Esq., Gross McGinley, Allentown, PA.
Before: McKEE and RESTREPO, Circuit Judges, and HORNAK,[*] District Judge.
HORNAK, District Judge.
Charles Shumanis appeals from the March 29, 2016 order of the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entering summary judgment against him and in favor of Appellees based upon its conclusion that Shumanis failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Several months after the District Court's judgment, the Supreme Court, in Ross v. Blake, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 195 L.Ed.2d 117 (2016), addressed in detail the circumstances in which an inmate must exhaust his or her administrative remedies under the PLRA and when such exhaustion might be excused. In Ross, the Supreme Court held that although there are " no limits on an inmate's obligation to exhaust," " the remedies must indeed by 'available' to the prisoner" for the exhaustion requirement to obtain. Id. at 1856.
For the reasons set forth below, we will vacate the District Court's judgment and remand this case for further proceedings.
On November 14, 2014, Shumanis filed this lawsuit invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleging that individual defendant wardens and officers of the Lehigh County Jail (Jail), as well as Lehigh County itself, violated his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Shumanis claimed that on November 16, 2012, while he was an inmate at the Jail, Jail personnel brought him into the Jail's administration and discharge room so that he could complete paperwork for a pending transfer to state prison. There, Shumanis was attacked and brutally beaten by three other inmates. He suffered numerous injuries, including blurred vision in his left eye, five lost teeth, a torn lip, a closed head/brain injury, dizziness, back pain, numbness in his right hand, a subdural hematoma, a dislocated mandible, permanent facial scarring, a left eye deformity, and mental and cognitive concentration issues. One of Shumanis's attackers was a man named Roberto Diaz. A no-contact order was in effect to protect Shumanis from Diaz because Shumanis previously served as a witness against Diaz. According to Shumanis, Jail personnel either condoned the attack or improperly failed to prevent it.
The District Court allowed the parties to engage in limited discovery to determine whether Shumanis had exhausted his administrative remedies as required by the PLRA, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Following that discovery, Lehigh County and the individual Defendants moved for summary judgment, and--finding they were entitled to it--the District Court entered summary judgment in their favor. The District Court concluded that Shumanis failed to utilize his administrative remedies under the Jail's Grievance Policy and Procedure (GPP). Specifically, the District Court made the following factual findings and legal conclusions: (1) the plaintiff was aware of the jail's grievance procedure, (2) he needed to exhaust his administrative remedies by grieving any issues concerning any improper conduct by jail staff because such action constituted grievable " staff action" under the jail's grievance policy, (3) the plaintiff did not file an informal grievance relating to the acts at issue, (4) even if he did file an informal grievance, the jail's grievance policy required inmates to file a formal grievance and proceed through any appeal from a denial of that grievance before the inmate's remedies are considered to be exhausted, and (5) the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies because he admits that he never timely filed a formal
Page 147 grievance relating to the November 2012 incident at issue.
Shumanis v. Lehigh Cty., No. 14-cv-6560, 2016 WL 1237322, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 29, 2016). Importantly, the text of the Jail's GPP provides that administrative remedies are available for " [s]taff actions," but " [s]tate and federal laws" are " issues [that] are not grievable under [the] policy." App. Vol. I at 46.
The District Court had jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. We have jurisdiction over this appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Our review of the District Court's grant of summary judgment is plenary, and we apply the same standards that the District Court applied in determining whether summary judgment was appropriate. Giles v. Kearney, 571 F.3d 318, 322 (3d Cir. 2009). Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, summary judgment is appropriate if there is " no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). " The mere existence of some evidence in support of the nonmovant is insufficient to deny a motion for summary judgment; enough evidence must exist to enable a jury to reasonably find for the nonmovant on the issue." Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).
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