BOYCE v. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER granting in part and denying in part 54 Motion for Summary Judgment. The Motion is Granted as to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim and all other claims against Defendants Rosage, Rhoads, Wingard, Joseph, and the Department of Corrections. The Motion is Denied as to Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendant Jozefczyk. Plaintiff's state claims of slander and defamation are Denied as a matter of law. It is further Ordered that the Report and Reco mmendation (ECF No. 64 ) dated 12/12/2016, as supplemented herein is Adopted as the Opinion of the Court. The only claim remaining in this case is Plaintiff's procedural due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment against Defendant Jozefczyk, and as more fully stated in said Memorandum Order. Signed by Judge Kim R. Gibson on 2/7/2017. (dlg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
COMMONWEAL TH OF
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS, et al.,
Civil Action No. 3: 15-cv-0157
United States District Judge
Kim R. Gibson
This case was commenced on June 5, 2015, and was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy for pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrate Judges Act,
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l), and the Local Rules of Court for Magistrate Judges.
In this action, Plaintiff claims that defendants (parole and DOC staff members) violated
his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when he was given a recommendation for low
intensity Sex Offender Programming without procedural due process. Following the completion
of discovery, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.
On December 12, 2016, Magistrate Judge Eddy filed a Report and Recommendation
(ECF No. 64) recommending that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted as to
Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment claim, that the claims against Defendants Ro sage, Rhoads,
Wingard, and Joseph be denied based on lack of personal involvement, and that the claims
against the Department of Corrections be dismissed based on Eleventh Amendment immunity.
The report also recommended that summary judgment be denied as to Plaintiffs Fourteenth
Amendment claim against Defendant Jozefczyk.
Before the Court are Plaintiffs Objections to the Report and Recommendation (ECF No.
65), to which Defendants filed a Response.
(ECF No. 69).
Plaintiff objects to the
recommendation that summary judgment be granted to the Department of Corrections and to
Defendants Rosage, Rhoads, Wingard and Joseph. He further states that neither the Court nor
defendants addressed his claim for defamation and slander.
The Court finds that Plaintiffs Objections do not undermine the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge. It is black letter law that the Department of Corrections is immune from suit
under the Eleventh Amendment. As the report states, none of the three narrowly circumscribed
exceptions to the Eleventh Amendment are met in this case. The Court also agrees with the
recommendation that the summary judgment record is devoid of any evidence which
demonstrates that Defendants Rosage, Rhoads, Wingard, and Joseph had the level of personal
involvement necessary to impose individual liability on them.
As to Plaintiffs argument that neither the magistrate judge nor defendants addressed his
claim for slander and defamation, it is not clear from the record that Plaintiff actually ever
asserted such a state tort claim. However, assuming that such a claim had been asserted, it is
barred by sovereign immunity. Under Pennsylvania law, the Commonwealth and its officials and
employees acting within the scope of their duties, enjoy sovereign immunity and official
immunity and remain immune from suit. I Pa. Const.Stat.Ann. § 2310. None of the nine (9)
statutory exceptions to sovereign immunity are present in this case.
Sovereign immunity extends to claims against state employees for intentional torts,
including slander and defamation. From the summary judgment record, it is clear that sovereign
immunity applies to Plaintiff's claims of slander and defamation. At all times, defendants were
acting within the scope of their employment. Thus, Plaintiffs state tort claims for slander and
defamation fail as a matter of law.
After de novo review of the pleadings and documents in the case, together with the
Report and Recommendation, and the Objections thereto, the following order is entered:
AND NOW, this
7~ay of February, 2017:
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART as follows. The Motion is GRANTED as to Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment
claim, and all claims against Defendants Rosage, Rhoads, Wingard, Joseph, and the Department
of Corrections. The Motion is DENIED as to Plaintiffs Fourteenth Amendment claim against
Plaintiffs state claims of slander and defamation are DENIED as a matter of law.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation (ECF No.
64) dated December 12, 2016, as supplemented herein is ADOPTED as the Opinion of the
The only claim remaining in this case is Plaintiffs procedural due process claim
under the Fourteenth Amendment against Defendant Jozefczyk.
Kim R. Gibson
United States District Judge
1600 Walters Mill Road
Somerset, PA 15510
(via U.S. First Class Mail)
Mary Lynch Friedline
Office of Attorney General
(via ECF electronic notification)
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