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Onzik v. Borough of Edwardsville

August 11, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge



Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Edwardsville Volunteer Firemans Community Ambulance Association ("EVFCAA") (sued herein as "Edwardsville Fire & Rescue Company") and Frank Slymock (Doc. 12) as well as the Motion to Dismiss of Northeast Paramedic Service, Inc. ("NPS"), Trisha Jones, and Sharon Hulse (Doc. 21). Defendants move to dismiss certain claims alleged in Plaintiff Mitchell David Onzik's complaint (Doc. 1). Plaintiff's complaint raises several claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a claim pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as a number of claims under state common law. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motions. The Court will grant the motion with respect to Count XII, as alleged against the moving defendants, as well as Plaintiff's claims for attorney's fees and punitive damages under Count XI. Because Counts I through X are not raised against the moving defendants, the Court will deny Defendants' motions as moot with respect to these counts.

This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("federal question jurisdiction") and over his state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("supplemental jurisdiction").


The facts alleged in Plaintiff's complaint most relevant to the present motions are as follows. On November 10, 2007, Plaintiff experienced a diabetic emergency while fixing his residence and fell into unconsciousness. He was later discovered unconscious by his fiancé and her relatives. His fiancé contacted Luzerne County Emergency Services and reported Plaintiff's need for medical assistance due to a diabetic emergency. (Compl. ¶¶ 28-32.)

A unit from NPS, including Jones and Hulse, ("the Northeast unit") responded to the dispatch of Luzerne County Emergency Services. A unit from Edwardsville, including paramedic/EMT Slymock, ("the Edwardsville unit") also responded. The responders were informed by Luzerne County Emergency Services that Plaintiff was experiencing a diabetic emergency. They were informed of this again by Plaintiff's fiancé, her mother, and/or her sister upon arrival at Plaintiff's residence. They also informed the responders that Plaintiff may become combative when revived. (Id. ¶¶ 33-37.)

The Northeast unit arrived at Plaintiff's residence first and confirmed the diabetic emergency through a test revealing a glucose level of 29. The Edwardsville unit then arrived and the two units tried unsuccessfully to administer treatment to Plaintiff for a diabetic emergency. During this time, Plaintiff was either unconscious or semi-conscious. He apparently became combative, as he alleges that Edwardsville police officers, John Franzoni and Michael Lehman, along with others, tried unsuccessfully to restrain him. Plaintiff was unable to comprehend or follow the instructions of the police officers, Slymock, or the Northeast unit paramedics because of the effects of his diabetic emergency. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 12, 38-42.)

At a point during the unsuccessful attempts to restrain Plaintiff, and without a reasonable basis for doing so, the Northeast unit paramedics, Slymock, and the police officers began treating Plaintiff as if he used and was experiencing the effects of illegal and/or illicit drugs. Plaintiff's fiancé and her relatives informed them that Plaintiff was not a user of illegal and/or illicit drugs, but were ignored. Instead, Slymock and the Northeast unit paramedics administered drugs intended to counteract illegal and/or illicit drugs to no effect. Despite the information they already had and the presence of an insulin pump implanted in Plaintiff's body, the paramedics and the police officers continued to treat Plaintiff as a user of illegal and/or illicit drugs. Plaintiff, however, did not use, ingest, or otherwise abuse illegal and/or illicit drugs at any time relevant to the day's events. (Id. ¶¶ 43-47.)

Plaintiff was eventually handcuffed, strapped face down onto a board, and transported to a local hospital emergency room. Slymock, the Northeast unit paramedics, and the police officers noted their accusation of illegal drug use in their respective reports and to hospital personnel. The latter tested Plaintiff for such drugs, but no clinical evidence was found. (Id. ¶¶ 48-51.)

After his discharge from the hospital and prior to December 17, 2007, Plaintiff requested medical records and incident reports concerning the November 10 incident from Defendants. (Id. ¶ 53.)

On December 17, 2007, police officer Franzoni instituted criminal charges against Plaintiff. His actions in preparing and filing the charges were taken in concert with police officer Lehman. The charges included aggravated assault, simple, assault, reckless endangerment of another person, resisting arrest, and several counts of disorderly conduct. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants obtained copies of his medical records without authorization or proper legal process and used information contained in them in an effort to prosecute him. However, the charges against Plaintiff were all ultimately dismissed. (Id. ¶¶ 54-56, 59, 60, 61.)

Plaintiff filed the present suit against Defendants on November 10, 2008. (Doc. 1.) In Counts I through X, he alleges several § 1983 claims, a claim for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a number of state common law claims against "the Edwardsville Officers," defined in the complaint to include defendant police officers Franzoni and Lehman. (See Compl. ¶¶ 10, 12.) Count XI raises a state law for negligence against the Edwardsville Officers, Slymock, and the "Northeast paramedics," defined in the complaint to include Jones and Hulse. (See Compl. ¶¶ 18, 20.) Count XII raises a state law conspiracy claim against all Defendants.

Defendants EVFCAA and Slymock filed a motion to dismiss on February 6, 2009. (Doc. 12.) After Plaintiff failed to timely respond, the Court issued a Memorandum Order directing him to file a brief in opposition or otherwise communicate with the Court within fifteen (15) days of March 6, 2009. (Doc. 15.) Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition on ...

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