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Kimble v. Tennis

June 5, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)



This pro se civil rights action was filed by Paul Kimble ("Plaintiff"), an inmate presently confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Rockview"). Named as Defendants are SCIRockview Superintendent Franklin Tennis; Health Care Administrator Richard Ellers; Wexford Health Sources; Doctor Joseph Romeo; and Doctor John Symons. Service of the complaint was previously ordered.

Plaintiff states that he is presently serving a life sentence following his conviction for criminal homicide. He was transferred to SCI-Rockview from the State Correctional Institution, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. On March 7, 2003, Plaintiff underwent an open Cholecystectomy at Altoona Hospital. Upon his return to SCI-Rockview, Kimble was placed in the prison's Special Needs Block. While housed in that unit, he befriended another prisoner named Keith Hart.

His complaint alleges that there was an outbreak of a highly contagious staph infection Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ("MRSA") within SCI-Rockview. Plaintiff indicates that MRSA can be transmitted via saliva or blood or "passed from touching surfaces that others have touched." Record document no. 1, Addendum, ¶ 14. Kimble contends that Defendants failed to inform the general population inmates as to the spread of MRSA. They also purportedly neglected to take adequate precautions to prevent the spread of the infection. Specifically, Plaintiff maintains that Inmate Hart, despite having been diagnosed with MRSA, was allowed to return to general population with "open wounds" from the infection. Id. at ¶ 12. Kimble adds that correctional staff "made no attempt to wipe down the prison to stop the spread of this disease." Id. at ¶ 13.

As a result of the Defendants' alleged deliberate indifference, Plaintiff contracted the "deadly flesh eating disease" from Inmate Hart, while they were housed together in the Special Needs Block. Id., Complaint at ¶ IV (3). Kimble seeks injunctive relief as well as punitive and compensatory damages.

Defendants Romeo and Symons have filed a motion seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Record document no. 15. The motion has been briefed and is ripe for consideration.


Standard of Review

A court, in rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, must accept the veracity of the plaintiff's allegations. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). In Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit added that when 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." "[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).

"The test in reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is whether, under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Holder v. City of Allentown, 987 F.2d 188, 194 (3d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). Additionally, a court must "accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them." Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990); Independent Enters., Inc. v. Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Auth., 103 F.3d 1165, 1168 (3d Cir. 1997). Finally, it is additionally well-settled that pro se complaints should be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). This Court will now discuss Defendants Romeo and Symons' motion in light of the standards set forth above and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The moving Defendants claim entitlement to an entry of dismissal on the grounds that: (1) the claims against Dr. Romeo are improperly premised on a theory of respondeat superior, and (2) the complaint is devoid of any facts which could support a claim ...

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