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Baez v. Prison Health Services

August 27, 2009

ORLANDO BAEZ
v.
PRISON HEALTH SERVICES, INC., JEFFREY BEARD, SEC'Y, PENNSYLVANIA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, DAVID DIGUGLIELMO, SUPT., SCI GRATERFORD, JULIE KNAUER, DR. FELIPE ARIAS, DR. KOSERIOWSKI, DR. STEFANIC, AND DR. EAKIN.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Norma L. Shapiro, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff, Orlando Baez, a prisoner incarcerated at SCI-Greene, filed a pro se § 1983 action, alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution, against prison officials and medical personnel at SCI-Greene and SCI-Graterford. Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Reconsideration ("Plaintiff's Motion", paper no. 110) of orders granting counsel permission to withdraw and severing and transferring the action against defendants at SCI-Greene to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ("Western District"). The court will deny plaintiff's motion.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff is a prisoner previously incarcerated at SCI-Graterford and currently incarcerated at SCI-Greene. On December 18, 2006, plaintiff filed this pro se § 1983 action.*fn1 On March 24, 2008, plaintiff filed a Motion for an Immediate Injunction (paper no. 61) requiring defendants to provide him with medical care for lupus and gastrointestinal bleeding. On July 22, 2008, plaintiff filed a counseled amended complaint (paper no. 77).

The amended complaint divides the named defendants into those alleged to have violated plaintiff's civil rights during his incarceration at SCI-Graterford ("Graterford defendants") and those alleged to have done so while he was at SCI-Greene ("Greene defendants"). The Graterford defendants are: Prison Health Services, Inc.; Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections; David DiGuglielmo, Superintendant of SCI-Graterford; Julie Knauer, Dr. Felipe Arias; Dr. Koseriowski; Dr. Stefanic; and Dr. Eakin. The Greene defendants are: Louis Folino, Dr. Stanley Falor, Diane Mason, Shirley Hickman, Dr. Abimbola Talabi, Sharon Burks, Dr. Byunchak Jin, Debra Gress, and Michelle Diggs.

In its Memorandum and Order of May 4, 2009 (paper nos. 98, 99), the court denied plaintiff's Motion for an Immediate Injunction. On July 23, 2009, the court granted counsel's Petition to Withdraw, and ordered the action against the Greene defendants transferred to the Western District (paper nos. 107 and 108, respectively).*fn2 Before the court is plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of the court's July 23, 2009 orders.*fn3

A. Motion to Transfer

A Motion to Transfer to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania was first filed in this action on January 25, 2007 (Paper no. 14). The motion was filed by defendants John McAnany, M.S. Reese, Louis Folino, Diane Thomas, Dan Davis, Brenda Martin, Mary Balestrieri, Tammy Hooker, and Robert Dietz.*fn4 Other defendants located at SCI-Greene joined the Motion to Transfer: Stanley Falor, MD; Shirley Hickman; Michelle Diggs; Nancy Ziegler; Abimbola Talabi, M.D.; Byunghak Jin, M.D.; and Debra Gress. In support of their motion, these defendants claimed that: they were all located in the Western District; plaintiff's complaints against them concerned events alleged to have occurred within the Western District; and all of the documentary evidence and witnesses needed for trial were likewise within the Western District.

By Order of the Court of July 23, 2009 (paper no. 108), the action against the Greene defendants was transferred to the Western District.*fn5

B. Counsel's Petition to Withdraw

Samuel Stretton, Esq., was appointed counsel on plaintiff's behalf on October 10, 2007. Counsel, petitioning to withdraw on February 18, 2008, cited a deterioration of attorney-client trust (paper no. 57); the court granted his petition on February 29, 2008 (paper no. 59).

On April 23, 2008, the court appointed Angus R. Love, Esq., from the Institutional Law Project ("ILP"), as counsel for plaintiff. Mr. Love's ILP colleagues, Marybeth Walsh, Esq., and Jennifer Tobin, Esq., entered appearances on plaintiff's behalf as well (paper nos. 67 and 66, respectively). The ILP filed an amended complaint (paper no. 77), and litigated the Motion for an Immediate Injunction that plaintiff had filed on March 24, 2009, before counsel's appointment.

On May 8, 2009, following the court's denial (see papers no. 98, 99, filed on May 4, 2009) of plaintiff's motion for an Immediate Injunction, the ILP filed a Petition to Withdraw as plaintiff's counsel (paper no. 100). At plaintiff's request, a videoconference was held on July 20, 2009, to allow plaintiff an opportunity to oppose counsel's petition to withdraw. At the hearing, plaintiff demonstrated ample command of the allegations of this action, and expressed strong views on how his suit should proceed; these views were inconsistent with the advice of his counsel.

By Order of the Court of July 23, 2009 (paper no. 107), the petition to withdraw was granted so that plaintiff is again pro se. In its order, the court found that "[t]he burden to plaintiff's counsel in forcing them to continue the representation is greater than the prejudice to the plaintiff because of plaintiff's knowledge of the proceedings, his strongly held views how to proceed, and his ability to proceed pro se." The court referred plaintiff to its pro se panel to help him ...


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