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Tyrone Zeigler v. Phs Correctional Health Care

June 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Baxter


M.J. Susan Paradise Baxter

This civil action was filed in this Court on September 14, 2011. Plaintiff, through his counsel, brought this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983*fn2 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during his incarceration at SCI Albion. Named as Defendants are: PHS Correctional Health Care, Inc.; Daniel Telega; Tammy Mowery; Maxine Overton, Dr. Mark Baker; and John Doe-Medical Personnel. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to provide him with adequate medical care in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Further, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants PHS, Overton, and Baker failed to train and supervise the other named Defendants.

Defendant Overton is represented by the Attorney General's Office, while the remaining named Defendants are represented by private counsel. Defendants PHS and Telega, Defendants Mowery and Baker, and Defendant Overton have each filed a motion to dismiss. See ECF No. 7, 11, and 19. Plaintiff has filed a brief in opposition to the pending dispositive motion. ECF Nos. 21-24, 26-27. The issues are fully briefed and are ripe for disposition by this Court.

A.Standard of Review - Motion to dismiss pursuant to 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

A Court need not accept inferences drawn by a plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the Court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). See also McTernan v. City of York, Pennsylvania, 577 F.3d 521, 531 (3d Cir. 2009) quoting Iqbal, ___

U.S. at ___, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 ("The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."). A plaintiff's factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004). Although the United States Supreme Court does "not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is "required to make a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Smith v. Sullivan, 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D. Del.) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). "This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3.

Recently, the Third Circuit expounded on the Twombly/Iqbal line of cases:

To determine the sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal, we must take the following three steps:

First, the court must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.' Second, the court should identify allegations that, 'because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.' Finally, 'where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.'

Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 221 (3d Cir. 2011) quoting Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010).

B.Plaintiff's Allegations

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on July 5, 2009, he injured his lower left leg while playing basketball. Plaintiff heard a pop and felt severe pain. ECF No. 1, ¶ 12. Plaintiff went to the medical department where he was seen by Defendant John Doe and given an ice pack, Motrin, and crutches. Id. at ¶ 14. The following day, Plaintiff saw Defendant Telega to whom he described the injury, how it occurred, and the popping sound. Telega diagnosed Plaintiff with a muscle strain. Id. at ¶ 16.

Over the next several weeks, Plaintiff continued to suffer severe pain, walking with a limp, his left foot discolored, and with a bulge on his Achilles tendon. Id. at ¶ 17.

On July 28, 2009, Plaintiff saw Defendant Mowery and complained that he had been misdiagnosed. Plaintiff claims he tried to describe his condition to her, but that she cut him off making a sarcastic comment about his injury. Id. at ¶ ¶ 18, 19. Mowery denied that the injury could be a torn ligament or tendon and told Plaintiff she did not like his attitude and refused to further treat him. Id. at ¶ 20.

Plaintiff's injury did not improve and he continued to be in pain. Id. at ¶ 22. Around August 24, 2009, Plaintiff was transported to the Lawrence County Prison for a court hearing. Id. at ¶ 23. While there, Plaintiff saw ...

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