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Jackson v. Beard

February 22, 2010

NATHAN JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEFFREY A. BEARD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER OF THE COURT

Synopsis

Defendants Jeffrey Beard ("Beard"), Paul Stowitzky ("Stowitzky") and Fred Ruffo ("Ruffo") (collectively, the "Commonwealth Defendants") move to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim against them. For the reasons set forth below, I grant the Commonwealth Defendants' motion to dismiss Count I of the Amended Complaint and deny their motion to dismiss Count II of the Amended Complaint.

I. Applicable Standards

In deciding whether to grant or deny a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the United States Supreme Court has held:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculativelevel, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).

Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation and footnote omitted); see also, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (a plaintiff's factual allegations must be enough to raise the right to relief above the speculative level).

More recently, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 11937, 1949 (2009), the Supreme Court held that "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." The Supreme Court went on to specifically highlight the two principles which underpinned its decision in Twombly. First, for the purpose of a motion to dismiss, courts must accept as true all factual allegations set forth in the complaint, but courts are not bound to accept as true any legal conclusions couched as factualallegations. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; see also, Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside 2009 WL 2501662, at *5 (3d Cir. Aug. 18, 2009). Second, a complaint will only survive a motion to dismiss if it states a plausible claim for relief, which requires a court to engage in a context-specific analysis, drawing on the court's judicial experience and common sense. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950; Fowler, 2009 WL 2501662, at * 5.Where well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but has not shown - that the complainant is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

II. Factual Allegations

Defendant Beard is the Secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections. (Amended Complaint [Docket No. 19], at ¶ 3.) Defendant Stowitzky is the former Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Regional Correctional Facility in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Defendant Ruffo is the current Deputy Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Regional Correctional Facility in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 5.)

Plaintiff alleges that on May 4, 2007, while he was inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Mercer, Pennsylvania ("SCI Mercer"), he suffered a fall, heard a pop and felt a sharp pain in both legs, causing him to lose the ability to stand or walk. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-11.) Plaintiff was carried to the SCI Mercer infirmary where he was placed under the care of Defendant Scott D. Morgan, M.D. ("Dr. Morgan") and his staff. (Id. at ¶ 12.)*fn1 Plaintiff was examined by a physician's assistant under Dr. Morgan's supervision and x- rays were taken of his legs. (Id. at ¶ 13.) He was informed that he had suffered no serious injury to his legs and was refused further diagnostic testing or orthopedic treatment. (Id. at ¶ 14.) He was also "later" seen by Dr. Morgan. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

Plaintiff claims that he continued to suffer excruciating pain, was ridiculed by the guards and staff at the facility, and that his use of a wheelchair was withheld on numerous occasions. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Only after Plaintiff filed several grievances did Dr. Morgan agree to permit Plaintiff be examined by an orthopedic surgeon. (Id. at ¶ 17.)

On or about June 5, 2007, Plaintiff was examined by an orthopedic consultant, who diagnosed Plaintiff with bilateral quadriceps tendon tears of both lower extremities, requiring immediate surgery to repair the tendons. (Id. at 18.) This diagnosis was confirmed by an MRI taken on or about June 20, 2007. (Id. at ¶ 19.) On or about July 12, 2007, Plaintiff underwent surgery to repair the tendons. (Id. at ¶ 20.)

Paragraph 21 of the Amended Complaint sets forth general allegations against all Defendants, including Dr. Morgan, that they: (a) deprived Plaintiff of timely diagnostic tests, examination and medical treatment; (b) caused Plaintiff to unnecessarily suffer while he awaited treatment for his injuries; (c) caused cruel and unusual punishment and constitutional deprivations; (d) permitted the employees and staff to humiliate Plaintiff and deprive him of the use of assistive devices; (e) failed to institute procedures to prevent the unlawful deprivation of rights as suffered by the Plaintiff; (f) knowingly violated Plaintiff's constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and the deprivation of medical treatment and care; (g) inflicted unnecessary pain upon a person in their custody and care; (h) violated rules and procedures of the Defendants; (i) violated rules, regulations, ordinances and laws of the Commonwealth and the U.S.; (j) knowingly deprived Plaintiff of the freedom of his body from harm; (k) failed to hire properly trained employees; (l) failed to ...


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