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Allen v. Montgomery County

November 19, 2009

LONNELL S. ALLEN, SR., PLAINTIFF
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gene E.K. Pratter United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

GENE E.K. PRATTER, District Judge

Lonnell S. Allen, Sr., a former inmate at Montgomery County Correctional Facility, has filed suit against Montgomery County; Montgomery County Correctional Facility ("MCCF"); Montgomery County Correctional Facility Board of Prison Inspectors ("MCCF-BPI"); Julio M. Algarin, Warden of MCCF; Correctional Medical Care, Inc. ("CMC"), a medical care provider at MCCF; Dr. Margaret Carillo, medical director of CMC; and Emmanuel Jean Louis and Kathleen Bradley, both certified physician assistants employed by CMC. Mr. Allen asserts a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as negligence and infliction of emotional distress claims based upon the alleged failure to diagnose and treat his rectal cancer. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the Motion in part and denies it in part.

I. STATEMENT OF ALLEGED FACTS

Mr. Allen's Complaint sets out allegations of a harrowing existence as an inmate at MCCF. The following description of Mr. Allen's allegations sets the framework for evaluating the defense motion.

Mr. Allen was incarcerated at MCCF from February 5, 2007 until February 1, 2008, except for approximately four weeks in the middle of the summer of 2007. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 3.) From the very beginning of his incarceration, Mr. Allen consistently and frequently complained of rectal bleeding, rectal masses, sudden weight loss, anemia, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and severe lower body pain that prevented him from sitting or lying. (Compl. ¶ 4, 37.) He informed prison staff that he could not sleep or eat because of his ailments and pains. (Compl. ¶ 36d.) Specifically, Mr. Allen submitted a new "Inmate Medical Request Form" several times a week, presenting 100-150 of the forms*fn1 to facility personnel during the course of his incarceration, but it was not until January 2008 that MCCF staff sent Mr. Allen for diagnostic testing, which revealed that he was suffering from advanced rectal cancer. (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 26, 32.)

Despite Mr. Allen's repeated requests, he received little attention from the MCCF personnel. By April 2007, he was so distraught that he was placed in the "dignity suite" under observation for signs of suicidal behavior, but Defendants made no effort to determine or treat the cause of his despair. (Compl. ¶ 38.) At points, the institutional staff periodically provided Mr. Allen with topical cream, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (which apparently exacerbated his bleeding), and pain medications. (Compl. ¶ 37.) However, these medications were not refilled in a timely manner, often leaving Mr. Allen without any treatment for his symptoms. (See Compl. ¶ 36.) The MCCF staff also denied Mr. Allen access to diagnostic tools or treatment for the underlying causes of his pain and bleeding. Although Dr. Carrillo wrote or signed medical orders for Mr. Allen, she allegedly refused to see him. (Compl. ¶ 39.) Ms. Bradley and Mr. Louis, both physician assistants, saw Mr. Allen on several occasions, but did not provide meaningful evaluation or treatment. (Compl. ¶¶ 40, 41.) On June 8, 2007, when Mr. Allen claims he was in such pain that he could not sit down, was suffering from severe rectal bleeding, and repeatedly was passing out, Mr. Louis cut or incised the malignant tumor growing on Mr. Allen's rectum, reporting that he had removed a clot from a "hemorrhoid." (Compl. ¶ 42.)

On January 21, 2008 Mr. Allen had a surgical consult at a medical facility outside MCCF. (Compl. ¶ 26.) Mr. Allen was then diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of his rectum, an invasive, locally-advanced rectal cancer. (Compl. ¶ 27.) After this diagnosis, Dr. Carillo wrote a prescription for morphine tablets, providing Mr. Allen some pain relief that Dr. Carillo had been unwilling to supply during the previous 11 months. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

Promptly on the heels of the cancer diagnosis, MCCF staff moved expeditiously to have Mr. Allen discharged from custody. (Compl. ¶ 3.) On February 1, 2008, Mr. Allen was discharged from MCCF and he sought medical care on his own. (Compl. ¶ 28.) Since his release, Mr. Allen has undergone multiple surgeries and invasive treatments, including radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and the placement of a permanent colostomy. (Compl. ¶¶ 9, 30.) He states that his prognosis is poor and that he faces the prospect of a painful deterioration and continued suffering. (Compl. ¶ 9.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Although Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests," Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47), a plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. (citations omitted). Specifically, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Id. To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil complaint must allege "factual content [that] allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

The Court "must only consider those facts alleged in the complaint and accept all of those allegations as true." ALA, Inc. v. CCAIR, Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir. 1994) (citing Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (stating that courts must assume that "all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)"). The Court must also accept as true all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the allegations, and view those facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Rocks v. Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989). The Court, however, need not accept as true "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences," Doug Grant, Inc. v. Greate Bay Casino Corp., 232 F.3d 173, 183-84 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing City of Pittsburgh v. West Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 n.13 (3d Cir. 1998)), or the plaintiff's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions," Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d. 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

III. DISCUSSION

Mr. Allen's civil rights claims arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a valid claim under § 1983, he must show that (1) the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) the conduct deprived him of rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Parratt v. Taylor, 45 ...


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