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Velentzas v. U.S.P. Health Care Services Administrator

April 11, 2008

SPYREDON VELENTZAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S.P. HEALTH CARE SERVICES ADMINISTRATOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Jones III United States District Judge

(Judge Jones)

(Magistrate Judge Blewitt)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before this Court is a Report issued by Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt ("Magistrate Judge" or "Magistrate Judge Blewitt") on December 12, 2007. (Rec. Doc. 14). For the reasons that follow, we will adopt the Report in part and reject the Report in part, as indicated below.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND/PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

On July 11, 2007, Plaintiff Spyredon Velentzas ("Plaintiff" or "Velentzas"), an inmate confined at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan, in Waymart, Pennsylvania ("USP-Cannan"), instituted the instant Bivens*fn1 action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Rec. Doc. 1). The initial Complaint named as Defendants two (2) individual employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), an unnamed U.S.P. Health Care Services Administrator ("HSA"), the United States of America, and the BOP Director. Id.

On November 6, 2007, following a Report and Recommendation by Magistrate Judge Blewitt (doc. 5) and Objections thereto by Plaintiff (docs. 8, 9), this Court screened the original Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). (See Rec. Doc. 10). Plaintiff's Objections were overruled and all named Defendants except for the U.S.P. HSA Defendant were dismissed. Id. Plaintiff was granted leave to amend the Complaint relating to his Eighth Amendment claims against the HSA Defendant, and he was instructed to properly allege the personal involvement necessary to state an Eighth Amendment claim. Id.

On December 3, 2007, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint. (Rec. Doc. 13). In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names six (6) additional Defendants: "J. Ramos, HSA; Mr. Coleman, (formerly) HSA; Bhatti, CD; S. Tucker, P.A.; Mr. Faschiana, (formerly) P.A.; and John Doe Dentist." Id. at 1. Plaintiff maintains against these Defendants his Eighth Amendment claims alleged in the first Complaint. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied proper medical care with respect to the following medical conditions ("medical care claims"): ill-fitting dentures, hearing problems in both ears, and chest pain and dizziness. Id. Plaintiff also alleges two (2) new claims in the Amended Complaint: a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"),*fn2 and a claim under the Rehabilitation Act ("RA").*fn3 Plaintiff's prayer for relief seeks a declaratory judgment that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment, the ADA, and the RA. Plaintiff also requests compensatory and punitive damages, each in the amount of $500,000 from each Defendant. Finally, Plaintiff requests trial by jury on all issues triable. (Rec. Doc. 13).

Presently before the Court is a Report issued by Magistrate Judge Blewitt on December 12, 2007. (Rec. Doc. 14). The Report recommends that Plaintiff's Bivens action be dismissed as against Defendant J. Ramos and John Doe Dentist and that Plaintiff's ADA and RA claims be dismissed as to all Defendants. The Report further recommends that the Bivens claims against the remaining Defendants in their official capacities be dismissed and that Plaintiff's specific requests for monetary damages be stricken.*fn4 Finally, Magistrate Judge Blewitt recommends that the case be remanded for further proceedings regarding Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against the remaining four (4) Defendants. Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation on December 27, 2007 and January 7, 2008.*fn5 (Rec. Docs. 15, 16). Accordingly, this matter is ripe for disposition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW:

When objections are filed to a report of a magistrate judge, we make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge to which there are objections. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980). See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.3l. Furthermore, district judges have wide discretion as to how they treat recommendations of a magistrate judge. See id. Indeed, in providing for a de novo review determination rather than a de novo hearing, Congress intended to permit whatever reliance a district judge, in the exercise of sound discretion, chooses to place on a magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations. See id. See also Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 275 (1976); Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir. 1984).

DISCUSSION: Eighth Amendment Claims:

In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the six (6) named Defendants subjected Plaintiff to "medical treatment that violated the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment." (Rec. Doc. 13 at 8). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that John Doe Dentist provided him with ill-fitting dentures and refused to fix or replace those dentures. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that he cannot chew. Id. Further, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Faschiana, Tucker, Bhatti, and Coleman refused to treat or to refer Plaintiff to a specialist to address Plaintiff's hearing loss in his right ear and permanent buzzing in his left ear. Id. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Faschiana, Tucker, and Bhatti have refused ...


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