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Elliott Padgett v. Community Education Centers

February 27, 2012



Three motions are now pending before the court in this matter: defendant Ronald Phillips's Motion to Dismiss Counts I and II of Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 9); defendant Community Education Centers' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 10); and defendants' Joint Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(c) or Alternatively 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 17). For the reasons that follow, the Complaint will be dismissed without prejudice.

I. Background

A. Factual Allegations

The following narrative is drawn from the plaintiff's Complaint, filed on March 8, 2011 (Docket No. 1). In evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, this court must "accept the complaint's allegations as true, [and] read those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Servs., Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008).

On February 5, 2010, plaintiff Elliott Padgett was incarcerated at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility ("the prison") in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Upon entering the prison, Padgett was given a medical assessment by employees of defendant Community Education Centers ("CEC"), a private entity hired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to manage the prison. Padgett complained during this assessment of "dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, and shortness of breath." He had recently been admitted for five days at Temple University Hospital.

Padgett's stay at the prison in the following months involved a series of complaints to the medical staff, ultimately culminating in surgery for bowel cancer. On February 14, 2010, Padgett complained during a sick call of "back pain that had lasted over a week and pain in his lower right side." He was seen two days later by Dr. Carl Peirce, a CEC physician, to whom he complained of "chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, headache, dizziness and weight loss." Dr. Peirce prescribed a blood pressure medication and ordered that Padgett's blood pressure be monitored until March 1, 2010.

On February 23, 2010, CEC medical staff ordered laboratory tests of Padgett's blood. Those tests were not performed until March 1, 2010. The lab work indicated that Padgett's blood contained "below average levels of hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cells." CEC personnel took no further steps at the time to inquire into Padgett's health.

On March 14, 2010, Padgett complained to CEC staff members that "he felt cold and could not sleep." No action was taken, except to monitor Padgett's vital signs. His vitals signs were also evaluated on March 16, at which point he was instructed to return to in four weeks.*fn1 He returned as directed, his vitals signs were again evaluated, and he was told to return in six weeks. When Padgett was next seen on May 18, he was treated by defendant Dr. Ronald Phillips, the medical director of CEC. Padgett complained to Phillips of shortness of breath. Phillips ordered more blood tests and directed Padgett to return in sixty days.

On June 10, 2010, Padgett told a nurse on CEC's staff that he was experiencing difficulty breathing during exertion. The nurse took his vital signs and told him to avoid exertion, but she did not report the complaint to a doctor. Later that month, on June 24, Padgett was again directed to return in four weeks.

On July 16, 2010, Padgett lost consciousness and struck his head. A CEC medical staff member gave him medication for seizures and directed him to return for further treatment in two weeks. As of that date, the lab tests ordered on May 18 had not been performed. Phillips had made no follow-up effort to ensure that the tests were performed. Four days later, on July 20, Padgett suffered a seizure. He was again seen by Phillips, to whom he reported that he "had been vomiting and had experienced dizziness for the preceding two months." Phillips ordered a CT scan and further laboratory tests.

Padgett was next seen a week later, on July 27, 2010, by Dr. Peirce. During the examination, Padgett told Peirce that he was experiencing feelings "of dizziness with weakness, lightheadedness and gross pallor." The lab tests ordered on July 20 (by Phillips) had not been performed as of July 27. Padgett collapsed that evening. After his collapse, the lab tests were finally performed. The testing revealed "dangerously low levels of hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cells."

Padgett was taken that same day, July 27, 2010, to Riddle Memorial Hospital for "GI bleed, anemia, chest pain, syncope and collapse and hypertension." The medical staff at the hospital gave Padgett a blood transfusion, ordered further blood tests to be taken by August 4, and scheduled an enteroscopy to examine Padgett's small intestine. The testing ordered by the hospital produced "severely abnormal" results, which the hospital staff communicated on August 16 to CEC staff at the prison (to which Padgett had returned). As a result of this communication, Padgett was admitted to Temple University Hospital on August 18, though he was discharged back to the prison on August 21.

Ultimately, Padgett underwent a small bowel enteroscopy at Temple University Hospital on September 2, 2010. The procedure revealed "a soft mass with evidence of bleeding showing lymphangioma (cancer of the bowel)." Padgett was admitted to the Temple University Cancer Center on October 15, with "hypertension, hypoxic brain injury, worsening anemia, ...

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