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Prinkey v. Tennis

July 29, 2010

ROBERT LEE PRINKEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRANKLIN J. TENNIS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Robert Lee Prinkey ("Plaintiff" or "Prinkey"), an inmate presently confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Rockview"), in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, initiated the above action pro se by filing a Complaint under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

On April 5, 2010, this Court adopted the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson (Rec. Doc. No. 32), and therefore granted Defendants' motions to dismiss as to Defendants Tennis, Rackovan, Varner, Yarger, Swartzell, and Burks with prejudice, and as to Defendants Strohm, Thompson, and Breese without prejudice. (Rec. Doc. No. 34.) The Order also denied Defendants' motions to dismiss as to the claims against Defendants John Symons, M.D. and William ("Ted") Williams, Medical Supervisor.*fn1 (See id.) Plaintiff was given the opportunity to file an amended complaint as to his claims against Defendants Strohm, Thompson, and Breese within twenty-one (21) days. (See id.)

Presently before the Court for screening is Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed on April 26, 2010, in which he sets forth claims against Defendants Breese and Strohm. (Rec. Doc. No. 36.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant Thompson will be dismissed as a party to this action, the claims against Defendant Breese and a portion of the claim against Defendant Strohm will be dismissed with prejudice, and the Amended Complaint will be permitted to proceed as to the other portion of the claim against Defendant Strohm, as specified below.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), a federal court must dismiss a case filed in forma pauperis if the court determines that the complaint "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." In reviewing the legal sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept the truth of the plaintiff's allegations. Morrison v. Madison Dearborn Capital Partners III L.P., 463 F.3d 312, 314 (3d Cir. 2006). A complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (rejecting the "no set of facts" language from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). "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 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Id. at 555 (citation omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

Pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and pro se litigants are to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint "even when a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend," unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile." Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235 (3d Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).

III. DISCUSSION

In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff states that he wishes to pursue claims against Defendants Breese and Strohm, but does not state that he wishes to pursue claims against Defendant Thompson. (Rec. Doc. No. 36.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Breese interfered with his ability to receive medication by ordering him to put on a t-shirt in order to enter the medication line. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Strohm ordered him to get in his cell even after Prinkey told him that it was important for him to have medication for his seizures, and that after he suffered a seizure, Strohm allegedly remarked to another inmate "F*** this guy with these seizures." (Rec. Doc. No. 36.) We construe these allegations as claims of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need under the Eighth Amendment.

In order to establish an Eighth Amendment claim against a defendant for inadequate medical care, a plaintiff must show "(I) a serious medical need, and (ii) acts or omissions . . . that indicate deliberate indifference to that need." Natale v. Camden County Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). See also Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999). A serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that a layperson would recognize the need for a doctor's attention. Monmouth County Corr. Inst. Inmates v. Lanzaro, 834 F.2d 326, 347 (3d Cir. 1987). In addition, "if 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' results as a consequence of denial or delay in the provision of adequate medical care, the medical need is of the serious nature contemplated by the eighth amendment." Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103, 105 (1976)).

The test for whether a prison official was deliberately indifferent is whether that defendant "acted or failed to act despite his knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 841 (1994). "The official must both be aware of facts from which the inference can be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837; see also Singletary v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 266 F.3d 186, 192 n.2 (3d Cir. 2001). Thus, a complaint that a physician "has been negligent in diagnosing ...


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