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Michael Eric Drake v. City of Philadelphia

July 30, 2012

MICHAEL ERIC DRAKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PHILADELPHIA PRISON SYSTEM, PHILADELPHIA HEALTH SYSTEM AND FRANKFORD HOSPITAL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant, City of Philadelphia's (the "City"), Motion to Dismiss against Plaintiff, Michael Eric Drake ("Drake"). Also, before this Court is Defendant, Frankford Hospital's ("Frankford"), Motion for Summary Judgment against Drake. For the reasons stated below, both Motions will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On September 30, 2011, Drake filed a pro se Complaint*fn1 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983*fn2 against the Defendants alleging civil rights violations regarding medical care that he received in the Philadelphia prison system. He also asserts a state law claim for medical malpractice against Frankford. Drake avers that "between August 5, 2011 through August 23, 2011," he "got bit by a spider" in the prison recreation yard, and that he complained to the prison staff for several days about it. (Compl. ¶ III(C).) Drake states that the bite became an open wound that turned into a staph infection and then to a "MRSA infection," and that the prison medical staff failed to give him proper treatment. (Id.) Drake contends that he was also seen at Frankford five days later, and that Frankford failed to properly treat the infection. (Id.) Drake further avers that he experienced severe head and neck pain as a result of the infections which the prison health services failed to adequately treat. This led him to be taken to Frankford again. (Id. ¶ IV.) At Frankford, Drake alleges that the physician who treated a wound on his head negligently failed to take any wound cultures, administer any IVs, order a CT scan, and prematurely discharged him without administering further treatment including surgery. (Id.)

The City filed an Answer to the Complaint on January 4, 2012, and Frankford filed its Answer on March 5, 2012. We entered a Scheduling Order on March 6, 2012, ordering that all fact discovery shall be completed in this case by June 8, 2012. In addition, we ordered that Drake produce any expert reports offered in support of his causes of action no later than July 8, 2012. On May 24, 2012, the City filed the instant Motion to Dismiss based on Drake's failure to respond to written discovery and failure to attend his deposition. Frankford filed its Motion for Summary Judgment on July 10, 2012. To date, Drake has failed to respond to either Motion.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has failed to set forth a claim from which relief may be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); see also Lucas v. City of Philadelphia, No. 11-4376, 2012 WL 1555430, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 2, 2012) (citing Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005)). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must view any reasonable inferences from the factual allegations in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Buck v. Hamilton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2002).

The Supreme Court set forth in Twombly and further defined in Iqbal a two part test to determine whether to grant or deny a motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted that these cases signify the progression from liberal pleading requirements to more "exacting scrutiny" of the complaint. Wilson v. City of Philadelphia, 415 Fed. Appx. 434, 436 (3d Cir. 2011).

Initially, the court must ascertain whether the complaint is supported by well-pleaded factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Conclusions of law can serve as the foundation of a complaint, but to survive dismissal they must be supported by factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. These factual allegations must be explicated sufficiently to provide a defendant the type of notice that is contemplated by Rule 8.

See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) (requiring a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Where there are well-pleaded facts, courts must assume their truthfulness. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

Upon a finding of a well-pleaded complaint, the court must then determine whether these allegations "plausibly" give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. at 679. This is a "context specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. Plausibility compels the pleadings to contain enough factual content to allow a court to make "a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 at 570). This is not a probability requirement; rather plausibility necessitates "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). In other words, a complaint must not only allege entitlement to relief, but must demonstrate such entitlement with sufficient facts to nudge the claim "across the line from conceivable to plausible." Id. at 683; see also Holmes v. Gates, 403 Fed. Appx. 670, 673 (3d Cir. 2010).

B. Motion for Summary Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) states that summary judgment is proper "if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 267 (3d Cir. 1991). The Court asks "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether . . . one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit after applying the substantive law. Further, a dispute over a material fact ...


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