On June 15, 1973, Mitchell and all of his records were transferred from the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Pennsylvania, to defendant Chester County Farms Prison, where he remained until August 2 of that year. Upon his arrival at the Chester County facility he apprised defendant Cooney, a sergeant and the medical officer of that institution, that he was an epileptic and required medicine four times a day. Sergeant Cooney stated that the dilantin and phenobarbitol would be sent to Mitchell's cell "later on." Again that same day, June 15, 1973, plaintiff told a cell guard that he was in need of medication, and the guard responded, "There's nothing I can do."
Thereafter, plaintiff made constant requests for medication, but none was supplied to him until the evening of June 18. Although he took it immediately, on June 19, 1973, plaintiff lost consciousness and fell to a cement floor, where he struck his head. Guards and inmates thereupon came to his assistance, and placed a stick in his mouth to prevent him from swallowing his tongue. Mitchell was rushed in a prison truck to Chester County Hospital. He was treated in the emergency room for an epileptic seizure, released, and returned to the prison. Thereafter, throughout the duration of his incarceration in that institution, until August 2, 1973, prison authorities provided his medication.
Plaintiff avers that as a direct result of defendants' negligent or intentional failure to furnish him with medication from June 15 to June 18, he suffered severe mental, emotional, and physical anguish culminating in the violent epileptic seizure which required emergency medical treatment. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, each in excess of $10,000., and costs.
Defendants' motion to dismiss takes three basic tacks: First, they contend that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that his allegations consist of bare conclusory statements not involving the denial of any Constitutional rights. Secondly, they argue that liability under Section 1983 cannot be imposed upon the defendant prison, because it is not a "person," or upon any named defendants since, in their view, plaintiff has failed to allege any personal involvement on their behalf and the doctrine of respondeat superior is inapplicable under that section. Finally, defendants posit that plaintiff has alleged no pattern of behavior which would justify an award of punitive damages.
Since 1970, this Circuit has recognized that "where an inmate's complaint of improper or inadequate medical treatment depicts conduct so cruel or unusual as to approach a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of such punishment . . . a colorable constitutional claim is presented [footnote omitted]." Gittlemacker v. Prasse, 428 F.2d 1, 6 (3d Cir. 1970).
The Supreme Court very recently has confirmed the vitality of cases such as Gittlemacker and elaborated on the standard to be applied:
We therefore conclude that deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain," Gregg v. Georgia, supra, at, 96 S. Ct. at 2925, proscribed by the Eighth Amendment. This is true whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed. Regardless of how evidenced, deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury states a cause of action under § 1983.