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Harry L. Beckett v. Department of Corrections

December 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo


Plaintiff Harry L. Beckett ("Beckett"), an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Huntingdon"), filed an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 11, 2010, alleging that numerous Defendants*fn1 violated his constitutional rights in the context of treatment of his medical condition. (Doc. 1.) Beckett's complaint also includes discrimination and negligence claims. Numerous motions filed by both sides are presently before the court, including motions to dismiss as well as Beckett's motion for leave to amend the complaint. For the reasons that follow, Beckett's motion for leave to amend the complaint will be granted and the proposed amended complaint accepted for filing. Resultantly, the pending motions to dismiss will be deemed moot and the Defendants will be directed to answer or otherwise respond to the amended complaint.

I. Background

A. Facts

In the complaint, Beckett asserts that prior to his incarceration, he was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy and complex regional pain syndrome ("RSP/CRPS") on his upper left extremity. (Doc. 1 ¶ 7.) In 1992, he entered the Pennsylvania DOC, and has been incarcerated at SCI-Huntingdon since the fall of 1993. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 15.) Beginning on April 26, 1995, Beckett was cleared for "shower (Infirmary)" and "aerobics-sign up with activities department" in order to treat his condition. (Id. ¶ 17.) Further, from 1994 through 1998, he was treated by a Dr. William Mangino at SCI-Huntingdon. (Id. ¶ 18.) On July 10, 1996, Dr. Mangino ordered that Beckett was to receive "hot 15 min. shower in the infirmary" to treat the RSP/CRPS. (Id. ¶ 19.)

Beckett avers that throughout his incarceration at SCI-Huntingdon, "unknown individuals" in the medical department cancelled his 15-minute hot medical showers, subjecting him to pain and suffering as well as deterioration of his chronic condition. (Id. ¶ 21.) He specifically asserts that Defendants Showalter and Beregouskaya "condoned, encouraged and/or tolerated, in acquiesced - - repeated - - and unreasonable cancellation of [Beckett's] treatment plan." (Id. ¶ 24.)

Further, Beckett claims that on November 4, 2006, he was involved in an incident with Defendants Albright and Randolph which caused a "fracture," resulting in a "pronounced lump on upper left-hip region." (Id. ¶ 27.) As a result of the incident, Beckett was placed in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"), where he was denied any medical treatment, such as daily medical showers, double blanket, heated atmosphere, and an exercise program. (Id.) He further avers that while in the RHU until January 2007 for a misconduct unrelated to the November 4, 2006 incident, he was denied "any medical treatment and necessities (other than medications)" for over 60 days. (Id. ¶ 29.) To the contrary, Beckett also avers that he was "eventually" seen by a Dr. Salomon, who attempted to have Beckett moved to a heated cell or another housing unit, to no avail. (Id. ¶¶ 30-32.) He does assert, however, that he received medical attention once he was returned to general population in January 2007. (Id. ¶34.) Thereafter, his medical treatment plan was reinstated and he currently continues to follow it. (Id. at 1, n.1.)

B. Procedural History

On January 10, 2010, Beckett filed his complaint. (Doc. 1.) The Medical Defendants filed their motion to dismiss the complaint on March 2, 2010. (Doc. 12.) The DOC Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on April 2, 2010, (Doc. 23), followed by another motion to dismiss as to Defendant Randolph only on August 5, 2010, (Doc.53). See supra note 1, at 1. Beckett filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint on June 10, 2010, and attached the proposed complaint as an exhibit. (Doc. 39.) All of these pending motions are ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Constitution offers private citizens a means to redress violations of federal law committed by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia,subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 is not a source of substantive rights, but merely a method for vindicating violations of other federal laws. Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85 (2002); Kopec v. Tate, 361 F.3d 722, 755-76 (3d Cir. 2004). To establish a claim under this section, the plaintiff must show the deprivation of a "right secured by the Constitution and the laws of the United States . . . by a person acting under color of state law." Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996) (quoting Mark v. Borough of Hatboro, 51 F.3d 1137, 1141 (3d Cir. 1995)).

In the instant case, Beckett alleges that all Defendants violated his First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, committed discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 12131-12134, and committed negligence throughout his incarceration at SCIHuntingdon when they failed to properly address and treat his medical condition. In their motions to dismiss, both sets of ...

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