Claudio v. United States Of America
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry)Consequently, Claudios pending FTCA claims relating to the incident of April 25, 2011 are clearly premature because he cannot maintain a cause of action for damages until the resulting criminal gui lty plea and subsequent related misconduct charges have been rendered invalid via federal habeas corpus proceedings.In conclusion, in accordance with the mandates of Heck, the request for summary judgment will be granted. An appropriate Order will enter.(See Memorandum)Signed by Honorable Richard P. Conaboy on 12/3/14. (cc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
This pro se Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) complaint was
filed by Richard Claudio, an inmate presently confined at the
McCreary United States Penitentiary, Pine Knot, Kentucky.
Defendant is the United States of America.
The Complaint regards
actions which allegedly transpired while Plaintiff was confined at
the Canaan United States Penitentiary, Waymart, Pennsylvania (USPCanaan).
Service of the Complaint was previously ordered.
According to the Complaint, on April 25, 2011, USP-Canaan
Unit Manager Farley became upset with Plaintiff because the
prisoner had made a grievance against the official to the Warden.
See Doc. 1, p. 4.
As a result, Farley along with Correctional
Officers Gedrige and D’Abretto had the Plaintiff summoned to
Upon the Plaintiff’s arrival he was allegedly
subjected to verbal threats from Farley.
When Plaintiff refused a directive to submit to restraints,
the three officials then purportedly subjected the inmate to
During this incident, Claudio states that he was
slammed to the floor, repeatedly punched in the face and torso, and
had his ankle twisted.
As a result of the assault, Plaintiff
claims that he suffered a broken rib, facial lacerations,
headaches, an ankle sprain and other trauma which required a one
The Defendant responded to the Complaint by filing a motion
seeking entry of summary judgment.
See Doc. 17.
motion is ripe for consideration.
Defendant asserts that entry of summary judgment is
appropriate because (1) Plaintiff’s action is barred by the
favorable termination rule and (2) the record does not support
Claudio’s intentional tort claims.
Summary judgment is proper if “the pleadings, the discovery
and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c); See also Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d
A factual dispute is “material” if it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the applicable law.
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Anderson v. Liberty
A factual dispute is
“genuine” only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis that
would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the
Id. at 248.
The court must resolve all doubts
as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of
the non-moving party.
Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232; see also Reeder v.
Sybron Transition Corp., 142 F.R.D. 607, 609 (M.D. Pa. 1992).
Unsubstantiated arguments made in briefs are not considered
evidence of asserted facts.
Versarge v. Township of Clinton, 984
F.2d 1359, 1370 (3d Cir. 1993).
Once the moving party has shown that there is an absence of
evidence to support the claims of the non-moving party, the nonmoving party may not simply sit back and rest on the allegations in
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324
Instead, it must “go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.”
Id. (internal quotations omitted); see
also Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (citations omitted).
judgment should be granted where a party “fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to
that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden at
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.
“‘Such affirmative evidence
– regardless of whether it is direct or circumstantial – must
amount to more than a scintilla, but may amount to less (in the
evaluation of the court) than a preponderance.’”
Saldana, 260 F.3d
at 232 (quoting Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458,
460-61 (3d Cir. 1989)).
According to the Defendant, on April 25, 2011 Claudio
verbally threatened USP-Canaan Case Manager DeRoberto when the
employee was unable to make photocopies for Claudio.
Farley purportedly overheard the verbal dispute from his nearby
office. Farley left his office and ordered Claudio to submit to
The Plaintiff refused and when Farley ordered the
inmate to turn around, Claudio allegedly punched Farley in the
Correctional staff responded by conducting an immediate use
of force in order to place Plaintiff into ambulatory restraints.
During that endeavor, Claudio purportedly injured
Correctional Officer Gedrich’s right hand and attempted to punch
and kick other correctional staff members.
As a result of his
actions, Plaintiff was charged with knowingly assaulting,
resisting, opposing, and impeding federal law enforcement officers
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a) &(b).
Plaintiff entered a guilty plea to that charge on July 2,
2012 before the Honorable James M. Munley of this Court.
United States v. Claudio, 3:11-CR-337, (M.D. Pa.).
sentenced to serve a consecutive one year plus one day term of
Upon conclusion of the federal criminal prosecution,
Claudio was issued three institutional disciplinary charges
stemming from the same incident.
disciplinary proceedings, Plaintiff was found guilty of the three
charges and was issued sanctions which included forfeiture of good
Defendant contends that Claudio’s present allegations
represent a collateral attack of his criminal conviction as well as
the ensuing misconduct hearings which resulted in the loss of good
Accordingly, the Defendant argues that until the
criminal conviction and the results of the disciplinary proceedings
have been invalidated or overturned via a grant of federal habeas
corpus relief, his claim for monetary damages with respect to his
allegations relating to the incident is barred under Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
See Doc. 20, p. 7.
opposing brief (Doc. 35) does not address the favorable termination
Inmates challenging the duration of their confinement or
seeking earlier or speedier release must assert such claims in a
properly filed habeas corpus petition.
U.S. 475 (1975).
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
The United States Supreme Court in Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646 (1997), concluded that a civil rights
claim for declaratory relief “based on allegations ... that
necessarily imply the invalidity of the punishment imposed, is not
cognizable” in a civil rights action.
Id. at 646.
It is undisputed that Plaintiff was criminally convicted and
issued misconduct charges as a result of the events of incident
which occurred on April 25, 2011.
Plaintiff entered a guilty plea
to the federal criminal charge and received an additional term of
Following institutional disciplinary hearings, he
was found guilty of three misconduct charges and received sanctions
which included losses of good conduct time.
In Heck, the Supreme Court ruled that a cause of action for
damages does not accrue "for allegedly unconstitutional conviction
or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid", until
the Plaintiff proves that the "conviction or sentence has been
reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared
invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination,
or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
Id. at 486-87.
It has been recognized that the principles of Heck apply to
See Butcher v. United States, No. 06-CV-2243, 2007 WL
(M.D. Pa. July 30, 2007)(Conner, J.)(“claims are not
cognizable under the FTCA insofar as a ruling in plaintiff’s favor
would impugn the validity of a conviction”).
Heck has also been
deemed applicable to a claim that a sentence was improperly
increased by correctional officials.
See Sharp v. Lavan, No. 02-
4535, (3d Cir. June 19, 2003)(Table).
claims are not cognizable under the FTCA insofar as a ruling in
plaintiff’s favor would imply the invalidity of plaintiff’s
Hinton v. United States, 91 Fed. Appx.
491, 2004 WL 540473 *1 (6th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff’s claims relating to an incident which occurred on
April 25, 2011 and led to the filing of both a federal criminal
charge and institutional disciplinary charges which resulted in an
additional criminal sentence as well as losses of good time credits
clearly attack the length of his federal sentence.
recognizes that there are circumstances where consideration of
intentional tort claims would not implicate Heck.
accepting the Plaintiff’s version of the facts with respect to the
April 25, 2011 events would require findings by this Court that
Claudio was the victim of an intentional tort on that date and
should not be held responsible for the actions underlying the
criminal and misconduct charges and ergo that there was no
legitimate purpose behind the decision to employ ambulatory
Consequently, disposition of Claudio’s pending intentional
tort allegations could call into question the lawfulness of the
federal guilty plea and
misconduct charges and therefore are
clearly precluded under Heck.
Under Heck since Plaintiff’s pending
claims if proven, would undermine the validity of the resulting
guilty plea and disciplinary proceedings, those claims must be
initially raised via properly filed habeas corpus petitions.
Consequently, Claudio’s pending FTCA claims relating to the
incident of April 25, 2011 are clearly premature because he cannot
maintain a cause of action for damages until the resulting criminal
guilty plea and subsequent related misconduct charges have been
rendered invalid via federal habeas corpus proceedings.
In conclusion, in accordance with the mandates of Heck, the
request for summary judgment will be granted.
An appropriate Order
S/Richard P. Conaboy
RICHARD P. CONABOY
United States District Judge
DATED: DECEMBER 3, 2014
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