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Smith v. O'Boyle

May 10, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Muir

(Complaint Filed 9/25/06)



Plaintiff, Curtis Smith, an inmate confined in the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution, Frackville, Pennsylvania ("SCIMahanoy"), filed the above captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He complains that defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Doc. No. 1, complaint). Named as defendants in the complaint are Jeffrey Beard, Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; and the following SCI-Mahanoy employees: Nurse Dougherty; Alice Chipriano, Nurse Supervisor; Marva Cerullo, Health Care Administrator; Edward Klem, Superintendent; Edward Martin, Superintendent's Assistant; C.O. O'Boyle; and Dr. Modery. Presently before the court is defendants' motions to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. Nos. 12, 15). The motions are fully briefed, and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motions to dismiss will be granted.

Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of claims that fail to assert a basis upon which relief can be granted. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court is required to accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. Langford v. City of Atlantic City, 235 F.3d 845, 847 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)). "The complaint will be deemed to have alleged sufficient facts if it adequately put[s] the defendant on notice of the essential elements of the plaintiff's cause of action." Id. The court will not dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond a doubt that "no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002). Consistent with these principles, the court must grant leave to amend before dismissing a claim that is merely deficient. See Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000). Factual Allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint Plaintiff states that "on February 7, 2006 at 11:00 p.m., plaintiff got down from his bunk to urinate and couldn't" because he "felt severe pain above his pelvic area and his lower back." (Doc. No. 1, complaint). Plaintiff "immediately pushed the call button for the officer on duty (O'Boyle) and requested to see a doctor." Id. Plaintiff claims that defendant O'Boyle "said he would call medical." Id.

At approximately 12:05 a.m. on February 8, 2006, plaintiff "again pushed the call button for O'Boyle and conveyed again his need to see a doctor." Id. O'Boyle stated that "'he had called medical'." Id.

At approximately 1:20 a.m. on February 8, 2006, a third call was made to O'Boyle requesting to see a doctor. Id. At approximately 1:28 a.m. on February 8, 2006 "two officers removed plaintiff from his cell and carried him to the CO's station where Nurse Dougherty questioned him and escorted him to medical." Id. At medical Nurse Dougherty "called the physician (Modery) who allegedly ordered her to continue to monitor plaintiff's condition." Id. Plaintiff claims that no medication was administered.

At approximately 2:30 a.m. on February 8, 2006, "Nurse Dougherty again called the physician on call who allegedly ordered that plaintiff be transported to the hospital." Id. At approximately 3:46 a.m. on February 8, 2006, plaintiff "departed the facility for the hospital," where after an examination "plaintiff was diagnosed with having kidney stones/colic and hyperthyroidism." Id.

On February 16, 2006, plaintiff filed Grievance No. 144238 "as a result of the 4 hour and 46 minute delay in obtaining emergency medical treatment." (Doc. No. 1, Ex. A, grievance). The grievance was received on February 17, 2006, by Grievance Coordinator Ed Martin. Id. On February 18, 2006, Nurse Supervisor Alice Chipriano responded to plaintiff's grievance with the following:

Medical received the call from your block at 0120 on 02/08/06. I've reviewed the documentation on your medical record and you were in pain. The nurse brought you to medical and called the physician on call. She gave the medication the physician ordered and continued to monitor your condition. The nurse again called the physician at 0230, that is when the physician ordered you be transported to the hospital.

You were transported to the hospital with security in a state vehicle. Your treatment was appropriate and timely.

Kidney stones/colic is very painful, however, the nurses actions were appropriate. I checked the block book to try to verify your allegations, there is no documentation that medical was called at 11:00 p.m. Therefore your grievance is denied. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. B, Official Inmate Grievance Initial Response).

On March 1, 2006, plaintiff filed an appeal of the initial response to Superintendent Klem. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. C, Appeal). In a response dated March 17, 2006, Superintendent Klem remanded the grievance to Grievance Coordinator, Mr. Martin, finding that the "delayed response on the housing unit and the medical need to be more adequately addressed." (Doc. No. 1, Ex. D, Appeal Response). By Memorandum dated March 24, 2006, Grievance Coordinator Martin notified plaintiff of the remand and his forthcoming investigation and response. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. E, Memorandum).

On March 30, 2006, Grievance Coordinator Martin issued the following summary of his findings with regard to plaintiff's grievance:

Superintendent Klem reviewed your appeal to this grievance and remanded it back to me for further investigation. In the grievance you stated that at 2300 hours you "felt pain right above my pelvic area and in my lower back." You go on to state you pushed the call button and then told the officer that you needed to see a doctor. You further state that he said he would call Medical. You report that at 0128 hours, CO Smith and another officer carried you to the CO station and you then fell out of the chair. You then went to the Medical Department ...

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