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Davis v. United States

March 31, 2009

CALVIN DAVIS, RICARDO ROLON, KIRK HENSON, DAVID HARVEY, JAMES BROWN, CHANDAR BINGHAM, MAURICE POPE, PLAINTIFFS
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas I. Vanaskie United States District Judge

(JUDGE VANASKIE)

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiffs, several current and former inmates who were incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution Schuylkill, Pennsylvania ("FCI Schuylkill"), filed a complaint against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C.A. § 1346. The Complaint alleges negligence in the administration of the institution as well as negligent medical care of the inmates occurring during 2005 and 2006. The United States has filed a motion to dismiss based on failure to file a "certificate of merit" within sixty (60) days of the filing of the Complaint. (Dkt. 34.)*fn1 Because the certificate of merit requirement imposed by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042.3 applies as substantive law to Plaintiffs' claims under the FTCA, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be granted, but Plaintiffs will be given leave to file an amended complaint limited to claims of negligence based upon conduct of Bureau of Prisons' employees who are not healthcare professionals.

I. Background

Plaintiffs, eight former or current inmates who were housed at FCI Schuylkill between 2005 and 2006, filed the current action in this Court on March 26, 2007. (Complaint, Dkt. 1.) The Complaint asserts that the "basis for this action is the Defendant's failure to provide adequate medical care to inmates under its supervision and control at FCI Schuylkill." (Id. at ¶ 14.)

Between 2005 and 2006, Plaintiffs became infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ("MRSA").*fn2 (Id. at ¶ 16.) Plaintiffs allege that they "contracted MSRA because each Plaintiff was housed in a cell with or placed within close proximity to individuals who were infected with MRSA." (Id. at ¶ 19.) As a result, Plaintiffs developed "painful boils and lesions which spread throughout their bodies affecting their skin and internal organs" and that they observed "scars, abscesses, lesions and festering wounds" which caused them to seek help from prison and medical staff. (Id.)

The Complaint alleges that there was an official, but unwritten, policy and practice of:

a) Not providing medical isolation facilities for inmates;

b) Not providing adequate screening procedures for new inmates prior to admitting them to their cells;

c) Not providing medical care to inmates unless death appeared imminent;

d) Not providing and/or refusing to provide medical testing without a Court Order;

e) Refusing to acknowledge and/or denying the existence of infectious diseases at FCI Schuylkill;

f) Failing and/or refusing to provide basic sanitation for inmates; and

g) Failing to disclose and concealing the outbreak of infectious diseases at FCI Schuylkill. (Id. at ¶ 15.) In support of these assertions, Plaintiffs aver that they were each forced to care for themselves because they were "denied access to medical treatment, staff, and personnel, despite their obvious and painful abscesses, scars, lesions and festering wounds." (Id. at ¶ 22.) Plaintiffs additionally allege that FCI Schuylkill was aware of the MRSA outbreak, but that prisoners were not warned of the outbreak, were not told to refrain from contact with the infected inmates, were not told to avoid touching their own infections, and were not quarantined or kept segregated from uninfected inmates and staff. (Id. at ¶¶ 20, 23, 27.) Plaintiffs also allege that the Warden of ...


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