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David A. Santia v. Medical Department

July 19, 2012

DAVID A. SANTIA, PLAINTIFF
v.
MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION AND ORDER*fn1

United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

On November 15, 2011, Plaintiff David A Santia, an inmate at the Erie County Prison in Erie, Pennsylvania, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983 against Defendant Corizon Health, Inc., f/k/a Prison Health Services, Inc. (incorrectly identified in the complaint as the Erie County Prison Medical Department) (ACorizon@). Plaintiff subsequently moved to amend the caption of the complaint to add Defendants Erie County Prison (AECP@) and Dr. Barac (ABarac@). [ECF No. 4].

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on November 1, 2011, he broke his eyeglasses and sustained unspecified injuries to his knee and back when a chair collapsed under him at ECP. Plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the medical department because it Afailed to treat [him] with respect and dignity to [his] injury.@ Plaintiff alleges further that when he attempted to file a grievance he was issued a misconduct for attempting to hoard medications and was placed in the restricted housing unit (ARHU@). Plaintiff claims that the misconduct was issued in retaliation for his attempts to file a grievance regarding the quality of medical treatment he received after the chair incident. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that his Neurontin medication was wrongfully discontinued after he received the misconduct. As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Defendants Corizon and Barac have filed motions to dismiss based, in part, on Plaintiff=s failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. [ECF No. 11, 34]. Defendant ECP has filed its own motion to dismiss arguing, inter alia, that Plaintiff has failed to establish a proper basis for municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). [ECF No. 24]. Despite having been given more than ample time to do so, Plaintiff has failed to file a response to any of Defendants= motions. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Standards of Review

1. Motion to Dismiss

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 Aenough 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 traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

The Court need not accept inferences drawn by 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 School 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). AFactual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.@ Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although the United States Supreme Court does Anot 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 Arequired to make a >showing= rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief.@ Smith v. Sullivan, 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D.Del. February 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). AThis >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.

Recently, the Third Circuit Court prescribed the following three-step approach to determine the sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal:

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 ...


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