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Bechtel v. Lebanon County Prison

December 26, 2007

JOSEPH T. BECHTEL, PLAINTIFF
v.
LEBANON COUNTY PRISON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



(Judge Jones)

MEMORANDUM

I. Procedural Background

This pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was filed by Plaintiff Joseph T. Bechtel, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Somerset, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Somerset"). In his complaint, Bechtel named seven defendants, generally alleging that he is not being provided proper medical care. (See Doc. 1.)

By Memorandum and Order dated August 27, 2007, this Court denied Bechtel's request to file an amended complaint and granted the motion to dismiss of Defendant Jeffrey Arthur Yocum, D.O.'s. (Doc. 60.) On September 7, 2007, the Court granted the motion to dismiss of Defendant Michael Seifert. (Doc. 65.)

The remaining defendants are Bechtel's former place of confinement, the Lebanon County Prison, Lebanon, Pennsylvania; the prison's Medical Department; and the following prison officials: Warden Robert Karnes; Nurses Ruth Gordon and Deborah Hitzler. Currently before the Court is the motion to dismiss (Doc. 30) filed by these defendants. For the reasons set forth below, this motion shall be granted.

Also before the court are two "Motions to Investigate Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania for Abuse of Authority" filed by Bechtel. (Docs. 63, 66.) These motions shall be denied.

II. Factual Background

In accordance with the standard of review governing motions for summary judgment, the following facts, and any reasonable inferences derived therefrom, are viewed in favor of the non-moving party, the Plaintiff. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, the moving Defendants submitted a statement of undisputed material facts in support of their motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 32.) Plaintiff failed to file a response controverting these facts, and therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, the Court may deem them admitted. However, given Plaintiff's status as a pro se, non-moving party and in the interests of justice, where the record in this case suggests a dispute regarding a fact, the Court shall it in the Plaintiff's favor.

Bechtel entered the Lebanon County Prison on March 16, 2006. (Compl., Doc. 1, at 4.) During the admissions process, Bechtel conveyed his medical history to the prison Medical Department, informing them that he was suffering from "dizziness and throwing up blood and urinating blood" and had passed out two days earlier. (Id.)

Bechtel's medical treatment began almost immediately after he arrived at the prison. On March 17, 2006, Bechtel received an initial physical. (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ["SUF"] ¶ 12.) On March 21, 2006, physician's assistant Michael Seifert began to conduct a physical examination of Bechtel (SUF ¶ 13), but the exam was not completed (Pl.'s Opp. to Motions to Dismiss ["Pl.'s Opp."], Doc. 47, at 3).

On April 1, 2006, Bechtel complained of dizzy spells, blood in his urine and stool, and weight loss. (SUF ¶ 14; Pl.'s Opp. at 3.) He was evaluated by a nurse in the Medical Department and instructed to sign up for a sick call. (Id.) On April 4, 2006, Bechtel was evaluated by Seifert at sick call. (SUF ¶ 15; Pl.'s Opp. at 3.) Several diagnostic tests were ordered, and Bechtel was referred to a general surgeon. (SUF ¶ 15.) On April 6, 2006, Bechtel was evaluated in the Medical Department and then referred to a hospital for further evaluation. (SUF ¶ 16.) On April 7, 2006, the Medical Department scheduled Bechtel for consultations with two outside doctors: Dr. Bazewicz, a general surgeon, and Dr. Beltz, a urologist. (SUF ¶ 17.) On April 12, 2006, Bechtel complained of a nose bleed and dizziness. (SUF ¶ 18.) He was evaluated in the Medical Department and instructed to sign up for a sick call. (Id.)

On April 17, 2006, Bechtel was evaluated by Dr. Beltz. (SUF ¶ 19.) Dr. Beltz recommended a CT scan and a cystoscopy, but Bechtel refused to undergo the cystoscopy. (Id.) Bechtel was also scheduled to be seen by Dr. Bazewicz on April 21, 2006. This appointment was postponed, however, due to the incident that occurred on that date. (SUF ¶ 20.)

On April 21, 2006, Bechtel became dizzy and passed out, hitting his head against the toilet in his cell and smashing his four upper front teeth. (Compl. at 5.) A correctional officer responded to Bechtel's request for assistance and transported him to the Medical Department. (Id.) Defendant Nurse Hitzler examined Bechtel and asked if he had been in a fight. (Id.) Bechtel responded that he had not. (Id.) Bechtel was than taken to a hospital for additional treatment which included a CAT scan and blood work. (Id. at 5-6.) When Bechtel was returned to the prison, he was placed in the infirmary. (Id. at 6.) Bechtel claims he was told by guards that the prison was "trying to cover things up." (Id.) He also claims he was told that Hitzler threw his teeth away. (Id.)

On April 28, 2006, Bechtel's rescheduled appointment with Dr. Bazewicz occurred. (SUF ΒΆ 21.) Dr. Bazewicz who recommended non-operative ...


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