United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
October 13, 2005.
STEVEN KACHMAR, ESQUIRE, Plaintiff
CITY OF POTTSVILLE, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN JONES III, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (doc.
15) filed by Defendants City of Pottsville and Dennis Wiederhold
on June 1, 2005. We also have before us a Motion to Dismiss filed
by the remaining Defendant Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic
(doc. 25) on July 28, 2005.
For the reasons that follow, we will grant both Motions to
Dismiss and close the file on this case.
Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint in the
United States District Court for the Middle District of
Pennsylvania on February 25, 2005. (See Rec. Doc. 1, ¶ 1). In accordance with our April 18, 2005 Order,
on May 18, 2005, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in the case
sub judice in which he added the Pottsville Hospital and
Warne Clinic as an additional named Defendant.
On June 1, 2005, Defendants City of Pottsville and Dennis
Wiederhold filed a Motion to Dismiss, which has been briefed by
the parties. On July 28, 2005, Defendant Pottsville Hospital and
Warne Clinic also filed a Motion to Dismiss, which has been fully
briefed. The Motions are therefore ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW:
In considering a motion to dismiss, a court must accept the
veracity of a plaintiff's allegations. See Scheuer v. Rhodes,
416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also White v. Napoleon,
897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). In Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65
(3d Cir. 1996), our Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit added
that in considering a motion to dismiss based on a failure to
state a claim argument, a court should "not inquire whether the
plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are
entitled to offer evidence to support their claims." Furthermore,
"a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim
unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no
set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see
also District Council 47 v. Bradley, 795 F.2d 310 (3d Cir.
1986). FACTUAL BACKGROUND:
As we explained in our April 18, 2005 Order, Plaintiff Steven
Kachmar ("Plaintiff" or "Kachmar"), an attorney who practices in
Schuylkill, Northumberland, Carbon, and Upper Berks Counties,
alleges that on February 22, 2005, he was driving alone near the
Schuylkill County Courthouse to represent clients at a Meeting of
Creditors scheduled pursuant to § 341 of the Bankruptcy Code
before the appointed Trustee William G. Schwab. (See Am. Compl.
¶¶ 1-2, 7). Plaintiff asserts that as he was approaching
Pottsville, he became disoriented while driving "for reasons not
known to him and as he drove through the City streets he became
dazed and not capable of controlling his physical function which
would have allowed him to stop his vehicle." Id. ¶ 8.
"Plaintiff was going in and out of consciousness during this
time." Id. ¶ 9.
Moreover, Plaintiff states that he is a kidney transplant
recipient since 2003 and is required to take certain medication
to preserve the integrity of the kidney's function. Id. ¶ 10.
Plaintiff wears a medical alert bracelet on his left wrist, which
advises others that he is a transplant patient and it contains
his physician's contact information. Id. ¶ 20.
Plaintiff further alleges that on February 22, 2005, as he
approached the Schuylkill County Courthouse, he parked his
vehicle on Second Street with the intention of taking his briefcase, containing client files, into
the Courthouse; however, as he exited his vehicle, Defendant
Dennis Wiederhold ("Officer Wiederhold"), a police officer for
the Pottsville Police Department, approached Plaintiff and asked
for his driver's license, insurance information, and vehicle
registration. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. Plaintiff states that during the
above-referenced period of time when he was conversing with
Officer Wiederhold and four or five other police officers, he was
in a dazed state in which he lacked balance and equilibrium.
Id. ¶ 15. Officer Wiederhold asked Plaintiff twice if he had
been drinking alcohol, allegedly based upon his observations of
Plaintiff and the fact that Plaintiff was driving with a flat
tire. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Plaintiff responded that he does not drink
and when asked if he had any medical problems advised Officer
Wiederhold that he had a transplanted kidney. Id. ¶ 17.
"Plaintiff advised defendant Wiederhold that the medication
Plaintiff was currently taking should not effect his balance and
equilibrium according to Defendant Wiederhold's report." Id. ¶
Plaintiff alleges that according to Officer Wiederhold's police
report, dexterity and counting tests were taken; however,
Plaintiff has no memory of such tests. Id. ¶ 21. The police
report further indicates that Officer Wiederhold advised
Plaintiff that he was being detained for suspicion of driving
while impaired and that he was being transported to the
Pottsville Hospital for a blood test. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff asserts that Officer Wiederhold then put Plaintiff's
hands behind his back, handcuffed him, and transported him to the
Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic. Id. at ¶¶ 23, 27.
Although Plaintiff alleges that he felt pain on his wrists from
the tight handcuffs and began to suffer breathing problems while
in the vehicle because of a heart condition, he did not "verbally
complain because of being dazed and in a semi-conscious state."
Id. ¶ 29. Subsequently, Plaintiff consented to a blood test,
which was administered by Craig Wywadis, an employee of the
Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic; however, Plaintiff has no
memory of said consent. Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff alleges that
despite the fact that his mental condition continued to
deteriorate, instead of offering treatment and/or refusing to
treat Plaintiff, the Pottsville Hospital allowed Plaintiff to
leave the facility by himself. Id. ¶¶ 32, 35. However,
Plaintiff then avers that Officer Wiederhold offered to transport
Plaintiff to a location of his choosing, but Plaintiff advised
him that he would walk. Id. ¶ 36.
Later that day, Plaintiff alleges that his office called
Womer's Garage, the location to which Plaintiff's vehicle had
been towed, to retrieve his briefcase, but he was advised that
the vehicle and its contents were impounded and could not be
released until a police officer approved the release. Id. ¶ 43.
Plaintiff then allegedly left a message for Officer Wiederhold to
ask if he could retrieve documents from a briefcase located in his vehicle; however, the
phone call was not returned. Id. at ¶ 44.
Two weeks later, Plaintiff was notified by Taddeo Garage in
Mount Carmel that his vehicle was ready to be picked up. Id. ¶
45. On March 11, 2005, Plaintiff picked up his vehicle and
discovered that the majority of the contents of his briefcase had
been emptied and that legal documents were scattered all over the
floor and front seat of his vehicle. Id. ¶ 46. Finally,
Plaintiff alleges that an inventory of documents from his
briefcase revealed that many legal documents were missing. Id.
A. Motion to Dismiss Filed by Defendants City of Pottsville
and Officer Wiederhold
In the Motion, Defendants City of Pottsville and Officer
Wiederhold make the following three primary arguments: first,
that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint
against Officer Wiederhold in his individual capacity because
Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted; second, that alternatively the Court should dismiss the
amended complaint against Officer Wiederhold in his individual
capacity because he is entitled to qualified immunity for his
actions; and third, that the Court should dismiss the amended
complaint against Officer Wiederhold in his official capacity and
the City of Pottsville because Plaintiff failed to state claims upon which
relief can be granted. (See Defs.' Br. Supp. Mot. Dismiss at
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff has asserted three federal
claims, as well as supplemental state claims, against Officer
Wiederhold. The first federal claim asserted concerns the
allegation that Officer Wiederhold used excessive force when he
placed handcuffs on Plaintiff. Second, Plaintiff alleges that
Officer Wiederhold unlawfully searched and seized the contends of
his briefcase. Lastly, Plaintiff alleges that it was cruel and
unusual punishment for Officer Wiederhold to fail to provide
medical treatment for Plaintiff's kidney condition.
We initially note that Plaintiff's federal claims are brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides the
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
. . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any
citizen of the United States or other person within
the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In order for a plaintiff to prevail under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he
must establish two elements: 1) that the conduct complained of
was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and 2)
that the conduct deprived a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 184 (3d
Cir. 1993) (citing Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 534
(1981), overruled in part on other grounds by Daniels v.
Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986)).
Taking all allegations as true in the amended complaint as we
must at this juncture, we find that the City of Pottsville and
Officer Wiederhold were acting under color of state law at all
relevant times. However, Plaintiff has failed to establish the
second element of a § 1983 claim, that is, that Defendants
deprived Plaintiff of a federal right secured under the
Constitution or federal law for the reasons that follow.
We will address Plaintiff's claims in turn.
i. Use of Excessive Force
Although Plaintiff attempts to assert an excessive force claim
under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, we
are in agreement with Defendants City of Pottsville and Officer
Wiederhold that only the Fourth Amendment is arguably implicated
by Plaintiff's excessive force claim. As such, our inquiry
focuses on the withdrawal of Plaintiff's blood, and prior to that
the handcuffing of Plaintiff at the point of the traffic stop.
The United States Supreme Court has held that a blood test
performed in an unreasonable manner violates the Fourth Amendment. Schmerber v.
California, 384 U.S. 757, 768 (1966). To determine whether a
blood test is reasonable depends upon two separate inquiries: (1)
whether the officer had probable cause to require a test and (2)
whether the test was conducted in a reasonable manner. Id.;
see also Orsatti v. N.J. State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 482-83
(3d Cir. 1995) (The Fourth Amendment prohibits a police officer
from arresting a citizen except upon "probable cause."); Freeman
v. Murray, 163 F.Supp.2d 478, 485-89 (M.D. Pa. 2001), aff'd,
37 Fed. Appx. 49 (3d Cir. 2002).
First, we note that the Court need not address whether the test
was conducted in a reasonable manner because there is no
indication within the amended complaint that Plaintiff's blood
was drawn at the Pottsville Hospital in any fashion other than
according to hospital practice. Second, from the face of the
amended complaint, we find that Officer Wiederhold had ample
probable cause to require a blood test from Plaintiff. According
to Plaintiff's amended complaint, Plaintiff became disoriented as
he drove from his home in Lavelle, Pennsylvania to Pottsville,
Pennsylvania and "became dazed and not capable of controlling
his physical function which would have allowed him to stop his
vehicle." (Am. Compl. ¶ 8) (emphasis added).*fn1 Moreover, Plaintiff
asserted that during this period of time he was going in and out
of consciousness and that the police report reveals that
Plaintiff was driving with a flat tire. Id. ¶¶ 9, 16.
Accordingly, we conclude that Officer Wiederhold had probable
cause under Fourth Amendment reasonableness standards to arrest
Plaintiff for driving while under the influence and to require
him to submit to a blood test.*fn2 Indeed, had he not
stopped Plaintiff, Officer Wiederhold would have been derelict in
his duties, as surely Plaintiff, by his own admission, was a
vehicular tragedy waiting to happen. Having stopped Plaintiff as
he did, Officer Wiederhold, again through facts admitted by
Plaintiff, had every good reason to obtain a blood alcohol test.
The Supreme Court has instructed that the state may legitimately
compel a suspect under probable cause to submit to a blood
alcohol test as it is safe, brief, and painless. See South
Dakota v. Neville, 459 U.S. 553, 559, 563 (1983). That is
precisely what took place here. Accordingly, we next turn to the
handcuffing issue as presented by Plaintiff. Although Plaintiff argues that the mere "placement of handcuffs
on Plaintiff on suspicion of driving while impaired is excessive
and unreasonable under the circumstances," the Supreme Court has
explained that in an excessive force claim, the question is
whether the officer's actions are "objectively reasonable" in
light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without
regard to their underlying intent or motivation. Am. Compl. ¶ 55;
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989). We find that
Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to establish
actual injury, and that the minimal use of force applied to
Plaintiff during his arrest was objectively reasonable and not
violative of the Fourth Amendment. See Kopec v. Tate,
371 F.3d 772, 778 n. 7 (3d Cir. 2004) ("Where, as here, a plaintiff
alleges actual injury inflicted by a police officer in the course
of an arrest, and supports his allegation with specific facts so
that it cannot be said as a matter of law that the use of force
was objectively reasonable, the issue of whether excessive force
was employed must be left to the trier of fact."). We do not
find, contrary to Plaintiff's allegations, that Officer
Wiederhold "maliciously" placed handcuffs on Plaintiff or that
such handcuffing was part of an overarching policy "in all cases
without consideration of the degree or nature of the wrongful
conduct[.]" (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 54, 59). In addition, although
Plaintiff alleges that it was impossible for him to verbally
notify Officer Wiederhold of the pain that he felt from the tight
handcuffs based on being incapacitation and "dazed," we note that law
enforcement personnel were not put on notice that Plaintiff's
handcuffs were too tight, nor did they ignore any plea to loosen
the handcuffs. Finally, tight handcuffing alone is insufficient
to state a claim of excessive force. See, e.g., Burchett v.
Kiefer, 310 F.3d 937, 944-45 (6th Cir. 2002). Again,
accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, as we must at this
juncture, Plaintiff has presented us with nothing more than a
tight handcuffing claim. Accordingly, the Motion to Dismiss is
granted with regard to Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment excessive
ii. Search and Seizure of Legal Documents
Plaintiff has also asserted a search and seizure claim under
the Fourth Amendment, by application of the Fourteenth Amendment,
regarding an alleged seizure of Plaintiff's vehicle and important
legal documents contained within his briefcase in said vehicle.
After a careful review of the record and applicable case law,
we are in agreement with Defendants that a post-arrest search and
seizure of a vehicle is not per se violative of the
Fourth Amendment. McFadden v. United States, 814 F.2d 144, 147-48 (3d
cir. 1987). Moreover, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held
that "the authority of police to seize and remove from the street
vehicles impeding traffic or threatening safety and convenience
is beyond challenge." Id. (quoting South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 369 (1976)).
We conclude that taking Plaintiff's allegations in the amended
complaint as true, as we must, Plaintiff has failed to allege
facts sufficient to establish that the impounding of his vehicle,
which happened to contain his briefcase, was anything more than
the removal of an unsafe vehicle from the street after the lawful
arrest of its driver, Plaintiff.
Additionally, as Defendants accurately submit, although
Plaintiff asserts that Officer Wiederhold violated his rights
when he failed to return a telephone message allegedly left by
Plaintiff's staff requesting the return of his property,
Plaintiff has failed to establish that Officer Wiederhold even
received the message.*fn3 Plaintiff subsequently concludes
that Officer Wiederhold violated his rights by dumping his
briefcase on the floor of the vehicle and seizing certain
documents; however, Plaintiff utterly fails to allege facts
sufficient to establish the necessary personal involvement of
Officer Wiederhold. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has
instructed that a defendant in a civil rights action must have
personal involvement in the alleged wrongs. Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988). As Defendants
explain, personal involvement can be shown through allegations of personal direction or of actual knowledge
and acquiescence. Id. Allegations of participation or actual
knowledge and acquiescence; however, must be made with
appropriate particularity. Id.
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his vehicle
was impounded on February 22, 2005 to Womer's Garage before being
transported at an unknown date to Taddeo Garage in Mount Carmel
for repairs. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 43, 45). The alleged search and
seizure was not discovered until March 11, 2005. Id. ¶ 46. We
are in agreement with Defendants that Plaintiff has failed to
allege sufficient facts to establish that Officer Wiederhold had
any involvement in the alleged search and seizure of Plaintiff's
Therefore, the Motion to Dismiss is granted with respect to
Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim.
iii. Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Denial of Necessary Medical
Plaintiff's final federal claim against Defendants City of
Pottsville and Officer Wiederhold concerns the Eighth Amendment.*fn5 In his
amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Officer Wiederhold
violated the Eighth Amendment when he failed to call Plaintiff's
doctor, failed to inform the hospital of Plaintiff's need for
medical treatment, and acted with deliberate indifference to
Plaintiff's medical needs by allowing him to leave the hospital
in his then current state. Plaintiff argues that Officer
Wiederhold did not satisfy his constitutional duty to provide
medical treatment by transporting Plaintiff to the Pottsville
Hospital for a blood test and accordingly violated Plaintiff's
right to medical treatment "as required."
The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment, made applicable to the States through the
Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause, requires the State to provide
adequate medical care to incarcerated prisoners. Robinson v.
California, 370 U.S. 660, 667 (1962); Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 104-6 (1976).*fn6 However, Plaintiff's amended
complaint reveals that he was not a prisoner. He has therefore failed to state an
Eighth Amendment claim upon which relief can be granted.
We must now determine whether Plaintiff has asserted a
cognizable Fourteenth Amendment claim. Although Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), was decided under the
Eighth Amendment, which prevents cruel and unusual punishment to those
convicted of crimes, courts have determined that the deliberate
failure or refusal to provide necessary medical treatment to
persons held in police custody also violates the due process
clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Baldi v.
Philadelphia, 609 F. Supp. 162, 166 (E.D. Pa. 1985).
Accordingly, failure to provide medical care to a person in
custody can rise to the level of a constitutional violation
under § 1983 only if that failure rises to the level of
deliberate indifference to that person's serious medical needs.
See, e.g., Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628,
637-38 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. 97).
To ascertain whether an individual has been held in "custody,"
the Supreme Court has instructed that custody must be determined
based upon how a reasonable person in the suspect's situation
would perceive or understand the situation. Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 662 (2004). While as
previously noted Plaintiff was not an incarcerated prisoner, the
Supreme Court has explained that even if a formal arrest did not
occur in this case, there was clearly a restraint on the freedom
of Plaintiff's movement of the degree associated with a formal
arrest as he was pulled over by Officer Wiederhold, placed in
handcuffs, and required to submit to a blood test at the
Pottsville Hospital after being driven there by Officer
Wiederhold. Id. at 663. As we previously explained, failure to
provide medical care to a person in custody can rise to the
level of a constitutional violation under § 1983 only if that
failure rises to the level of deliberate indifference to that
person's serious medical needs. Groman, 47 F.3d at 637-38
(citing Estelle, 429 U.S. 97). The Supreme Court has
instructed that "deliberate indifference" may be manifested by
"intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or
intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed."
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-5; see also Thomas v. Dragovich,
2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 14155, at *7 (3d Cir. 2005).
Accepting Plaintiff's allegations in the amended complaint as
true, as we must, we find it noteworthy that Plaintiff admits
that he had an exchange with Officer Wiederhold in which the
Officer "offered to transport Plaintiff where he wanted to go,
whereupon Plaintiff advised Defendant Wiederhold that he would
walk." (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 36, 38) (emphasis added). Officer
Wiederhold therefore did not simply permit Plaintiff to leave the hospital
by himself, but specifically asked to transport Plaintiff to a
location of his choosing; however, Plaintiff "advised Defendant
Wiederhold that he would walk." Id. at ¶ 36. (emphasis added).
It consequently strains credulity that Plaintiff is placing the
burden on Officer Wiederhold to either forcibly keep Plaintiff at
the Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic or to forcibly place him
in his police vehicle. By his own admission, Plaintiff was
capable of having a dialogue with Officer Wiederhold, in which he
first denied a generous offer to be driven to any location, and
subsequently walked out of the hospital to his law office under
his own power.
Therefore, after a careful review of the applicable caselaw and
taking Plaintiff's allegations, particularly as noted above, as
true, we do not find that Plaintiff has established a
constitutional violation under § 1983 such that an alleged
failure to provide medical treatment rose to the level of
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
Accordingly, the Motion to Dismiss is granted regarding
Plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims. As we have
determined that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against
Officer Wiederhold, we need not reach the issue of whether he is
entitled to the defense of qualified immunity. Lastly, although
Plaintiff attempts to hold the City of Pottsville liable for the
alleged illegal actions of Officer Wiederhold, since we have determined that Plaintiff
failed to state an underlying constitutional violation against
Officer Wiederhold, there is no basis for imposing
42 U.S.C. § 1983 liability against the City of Pottsville. City of Los
Angeles v. Heller, 475 U.S. 796, 799 (1986) ("neither Monell v.
New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S 658 (1978), nor
any other of our cases authorizes the award of damages against a
municipal corporation based on the actions of one of its officers
when in fact the jury has concluded that the officer inflicted no
constitutional harm."); see also Williams v. Borough of West
Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 467 (3d Cir. 1989). Accordingly,
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Defendant City of
Pottsville upon which relief can be granted.
B. Motion to Dismiss Filed by Defendant Pottsville Hospital
and Warne Clinic
In the Motion to Dismiss, Defendant Pottsville Hospital and
Warne Clinic argues that Plaintiff's claim for violation of the
Eighth Amendment should be dismissed for failure to plead any
facts to establish that the actions or inactions of the
Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic constitute state action.
Alternatively, Defendant Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic
assert that Plaintiff's claim for violation of the
Eighth Amendment should be dismissed for failure to plead any facts to
support that the fact that it acted with deliberate indifference
to a serious medical need of an incarcerated person. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied
necessary medical care contrary to the Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and
Fourteenth Amendments.*fn7 "Defendants, their agents and
employees, with knowledge of Plaintiff's medical needs, and/or
with deliberate indifference to such medical needs, have acted or
failed to act in such a manner as to prevent Plaintiff from
obtaining needed medical treatment and case and/or to prevent
needed medical treatment and care from reaching the Plaintiff
thereby endangering the Plaintiff's health and well-being." (Am.
Compl. ¶ 98).
After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law,
we find even assuming, arguendo, that the conduct of the
Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic constitutes state action,
Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted for the reasons that follow.
As we previously explained, the Eighth Amendment's prohibition
against cruel and unusual punishment, made applicable to the
States through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause,
requires the State to provide adequate medical care to
incarcerated prisoners; however, Plaintiff's amended complaint
reveals that he was not a prisoner. Robinson, 370 U.S. at 667;
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-6. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed
to state an Eighth Amendment claim upon which relief can be granted.
In determining whether Plaintiff has asserted a cognizable
Fourteenth Amendment claim, we reiterate that courts have
determined that the deliberate failure or refusal to provide
necessary medical treatment to persons held in police custody
violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Baldi, 609 F. Supp. at 166. The failure to provide medical care
to a person in custody can rise to the level of a
constitutional violation under § 1983 only if that failure rises
to the level of deliberate indifference to that person's serious
medical needs. Groman, 47 F.3d at 637-38 (citing Estelle,
429 U.S. 97). As we explained above, Plaintiff was in custody of
the Pottsville Police Department when he entered the emergency
room of the Pottsville Hospital because Officer Wiederhold
transported him to the hospital in handcuffs after he was either
arrested or detained for driving while under the influence and
required to submit to a blood test. Plaintiff was not permitted
to leave, nor free to leave, the Pottsville Hospital until a
blood test had been taken by proper personnel. A restraint on the
freedom of Plaintiff's movement therefore occurred of the degree
associated with a formal arrest. Yarborough, 541 U.S. at 663.
Accordingly, we find that Plaintiff has established that he was
in police custody during the relevant time period of this case;
however, Plaintiff has failed to establish a constitutional violation under § 1983 such that an
alleged failure to provide medical treatment rose to the level of
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
Taking Plaintiff's allegations in the amended complaint as true,
he has asserted an arguable, although dubious on its face claim
that the Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic was negligent or
that it may have failed to exercise the appropriate judgment in
permitting Plaintiff to leave the hospital after the blood test
was conducted despite the fact that it allegedly was aware of
Plaintiff's kidney condition, observed a medical alert bracelet,
and witnessed Plaintiff's "dazed mental condition." However, it
is significant and noteworthy that negligence in medical
diagnosis and/or treatment does not constitute deliberate
indifference, nor does medical malpractice. Estelle,
429 U.S. at 106 ("[I]n the medical context, an inadvertent failure to
provide adequate medical care cannot be said to constitute an
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain or to be repugnant to
the conscience of mankind. Thus a complaint that a physician has
been negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does
not state a claim of medical mistreatment under the
Eighth Amendment.") (internal citations omitted); White v. Napoleon,
897 F.2d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 1990). Plaintiff has therefore failed
to establish that when he was in police custody Defendant
Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic failed to provide medical
care in a fashion which rose to the level of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
Groman, 47 F.3d at 637-38. Plaintiff, who we again note
admitted that he walked away from the Pottsville Hospital and
Warne Clinic to his law office, then traveled to the Courthouse,
and finally returned to his law office after the administration
of the blood test, simply cannot inflate this panoply into a
constitutional claim. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 39, 41-42). Thus, Plaintiff
has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The
Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Pottsville Hospital and
Warne Clinic is accordingly granted.
Finally, as we have dismissed all claims over which we had
original jurisdiction, we will decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) ("The district courts may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a claim [in any civil action of
which the district courts have original jurisdiction] if the
district court has dismissed all claims over which it has
original jurisdiction[.]"). NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. The Motion of Defendants City of Pottsville and
Officer Dennis Wiederhold to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint (doc. 15) is GRANTED.
2. The Motion to Dismiss filed by The Pottsville
Hospital and Warne Clinic (doc. 25) is GRANTED.
3. The Clerk shall close the file on this case.
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