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Bailey v. Palakovich

May 14, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Muir

(Complaint Filed 08/22/06)



Plaintiff, Paul Bailey, an inmate formerly confined in the Smithfield State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania*fn1 ("SCI-Smithfield"), 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 George Weaver, Corrections Health Care Administrator; John Palakovich, SCI-Smithfield Superintendent; and Dr. Long, SCI-Smithfield physician. Presently before the court is defendants' motions to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. Nos. 19, 34). 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

The following factual background is extracted from the plaintiff's complaint and the many documents attached in support of the complaint. (Doc. No. 1, complaint and attachments).

As a result of an accident on October 29, 2002, plaintiff suffers from permanent mobility problems. (Doc. No. 1, July 28, 2003 Assessment by Dr. Maurice Singer). Because of the mobility problems, plaintiff was permitted the use of certain ambulatory devices. In 2004, plaintiff was transferred from SCI-Camp Hill to SCI-Smithfield with a cane and knee brace. On March 15, 2005, plaintiff was moved to "I-Block, where the showers are equipped for handicapped accessability." (Doc. No. 1, Response to Inmate's Request to Staff Member). However, "as of 4/12/06, the order for the cane and knee brace was rescinded by Dr. Long." (Doc. No. 1, April 21, 2005 Memorandum from Warden Palakovich to Paul Bailey).

The plaintiff filed the instant action in which he states that defendant, Dr. Long "has all medical facts of my disabilities and he is not capable of making diagnosis or prognosis" which plaintiff claims "requires neuro/orthopic specialist." (sic) (Doc. No. 1, complaint). Plaintiff questions why "after reviewing record x-ray 3/15/05 he moved me to handicapped shower block, so how does he rescind cane, knee brace?" Id.

Plaintiff further alleges that Corrections Health Care Administrator George Weaver "is responsible for all ADA claims and has established my disability in grievance 114300 referring to x-ray saying cane and handrails are optimal devices for my serious condition still he allowed my devices to be rescinded." Id. On April 13, 2005, defendant Weaver responded to plaintiff's Grievance No. 114300-05 with the following summary of findings:

In short, you want a transfer to Laurel Highlands because we have not equipped a shower with handrails for you to use. You feel this is a hardship and claim that we have not acted prudently.

I have reviewed your medical record, paying attention to the x-ray. I am aware that we have allowed you to ambulate with a cane within the institution. You are functioning within the institution in a very safe manner, capable of ambulating back and forth to the various areas of the institution. Equally noted is your claim for handicap ...

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