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Wilmont Fraiser v. York County Medical Dept.

August 13, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Caputo)


I. Introduction

On August 22, 2011, Plaintiff Wilmont Fraiser, a former detainee of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), housed at the York County Prison (YCP) in York, Pennsylvania filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming he is being denied appropriate medical care for his eyes resulting in the loss of vision.*fn1 He also alleges that he has not received a hot meal while housed at YCP and was not provided any means to cook hot food. (Doc. 1, Compl.) Named as Defendants in the Complaint are: the York County Medical Department; Dr. Ronkeal; and YCP Warden, Mary Sabol.*fn2

Presently before the Court are two motions to dismiss, one filed by the medical defendants, and the other by Warden Sabol. (Docs. 8 and 15). Defendants have briefed their motions, and Mr. Fraiser has filed briefs in opposition to each motion. (Docs. 13, 14 and 17). Thus, the motions are ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss will be granted.

II. Statement of Facts

Prior to his ICE detention at YCP, Mr. Frazier was an inmate at the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1 at p. 3).*fn3 Upon his June 24, 2011, arrival at YCP, he advised medical staff that "he had eye problem[s] and was losing his eye [sight]." (Id.) As of the date of filing his Complaint, Mr. Frazier states he was seen "6 times" by medical staff. (Id.)

Mr. Frazier filed a prison grievance regarding his medical care and received an untimely response from YCP officials. (Id.) On July 27, 2011, after threatening to file a lawsuit regarding his lack of medical care, Mr. Frazier was seen by an outside ophthalmologist and "was told what he already knew," that he was losing his eye sight. (Id. at p. 4). Mr. Fraiser also claims that he was denied hot food and hot water for cooking. (Id.).

Neither Warden Sabol or Dr. Von Kiel are mentioned in the fact section of Mr. Frazier's Compliant.

III. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss, "[w]e 'accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Byers v. Intuit, Inc., 600 F.3d 286, 291 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoted case omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts, if accepted as true, state "a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. The court is " 'not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.' " Id. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1965); see also PA Prison Soc. v. Cortes, 622 F.3d 215, 233 (3d Cir. 2010).

In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a district court's "inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged." Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011). If a party opposing a motion to dismiss does not "nudge [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974.

In considering a motion to dismiss, the court generally relies on the complaint, attached exhibits and matters of public record. See Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263 (3d Cir. 2007). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic document[s] that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the [attached] documents." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Moreover, "documents whose contents are alleged in the complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered." Pryor v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 288 F.3d 548, 560 (3d Cir. 2002).

Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Giles v. Kearney, 571 F.3d 318, 322 (3d Cir. 2009). However, under no circumstance is a court required to accept bald assertions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 215 (3d Cir. 2002); Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 n. 8 (3d Cir. 1997). Pro se litigants are to be granted leave to file a curative amended complaint even when a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend, unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile. See DelRio-Mocci v. Connonlly Prop., Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 251 (3d Cir. 2012). However, a complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002).

Finally, an immigration detainee is entitled to the same protections as a pretrial detainee. Contant v. Sabol, 431 F. App'x 177, 178 (3d Cir. 2011)(nonprecedential). A pretrial detainee is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Hubbard v. Taylor, 399 F.3d 150, ...

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