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Eric Lentz v. Melvin S. Lockett

December 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan

ECF Nos. 84, 86, 89, 92 )


This case is before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss filed by the following Defendants:

1. Dr. John Doe Rueda ("Dr. Rueda") and Dr. John Doe Suvorov ("Dr. Suvorov") (ECF No. 84);

2. Melvin S. Lockett ("Lockett"), Michael W. Harlow ("Harlow"), Brian H. Thompson ("Thompson"), Michael J. Mahlmeister ("Mahlmeister"), Martin Aubal ("Aubal"), Kimberly Boal ("Boal"), Patrick Quimby ("Quimby"), John Doe Edwards ("Edwards"), Stewart Steinberg ("Steinberg"), John Doe Zetwo ("Zetwo"), and Dorina Varner ("Varner") (referred to herein as "the Department of Corrections Defendants" or "DOC Defendants") and Cory A. Bish ("Bish) and Bruce J. Fronk ("Fronk") (referred to herein as "the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole Defendants" or "PBPP Defendants") (ECF No. 86);

3. Danielle Steele ("Steele") (ECF No. 89); and

4. Dr. Jeff Morgan ("Dr. Morgan"), PA Ed Hornman ("PA Hornman"), and PA Debra Goosenell ("PA Goosenell") (referred to herein as "the SCI-Mercer Medical Defendants") (ECF No. 92).

For the reasons that follow, the Motions will be granted on the grounds addressed herein.

I.Procedural History

Plaintiff initiated the instant action on August 30, 2011 (ECF No. 1), and his Complaint was docketed on August 31, 2011 (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on October 25, 2011. (ECF No. 13.) After the filing of Motions to Dismiss, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on April 3, 2012. (ECF No. 80.) Thereafter, Defendants filed the Motions to Dismiss that are currently pending before the Court. (ECF Nos. 84, 86, 89, 92.) Plaintiff filed responses in opposition to each Motion. (ECF Nos. 94, 95, 97, 99.) The Motions are now ripe for review.

II.Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint is difficult to decipher. However, a review of Plaintiff's numerous exhibits somewhat clarifies his allegations and claims.*fn1 Plaintiff alleges that, prior to his incarceration, he was prescribed Xanax for his psychological conditions and Oxycodone for his chronic pain. He claims that while he was confined at SCI-Pittsburgh and SCI-Mercer, Defendants would not provide him with Xanax or Oxycodone and instead provided him with what he alleges were less effective medications. Plaintiff submitted numerous inmate requests and grievances demanding medication that was the same or equivalent in strength to Xanax and Oxycodone, but his requests and grievances were all denied.

Plaintiff claims that his chronic pain affected his ability to walk but that prior to his incarceration he was able to walk with a cane while on Oxycodone. He claims that the SCIMercer Medical Defendants provided him with crutches to aid him in walking but that after using the crutches for two years he began to experience back pain, which he contributes to this long-term use of crutches.

Plaintiff was paroled and released to the custody of CEC Penn Pavilion, a privately owned and operated facility which accepts persons who have been paroled from the Department of Corrections and various county prisons; however, Plaintiff's stay at Penn Pavilion was short lived. After approximately 18 hours, Plaintiff was involuntarily discharged and arrested for violating the conditions of his parole by failing to abide by the rules and regulations of the facility. According to Plaintiff's exhibits, he caused a disturbance by the front desk of Penn Pavilion when he was told that he would not receive Xanax or Vicodin. He then requested to be placed in a private room and to go to the hospital because he was sick from not receiving the requested medication. He was sent to a holding cell, the only available private area, but was not permitted to go to the hospital. Later that day, a Penn Pavilion internal committee decided to remove Plaintiff from the facility. The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole Defendants then visited Plaintiff while in the holding cell to effectuate his arrest. Plaintiff requested Vicodin but was told by the PBPP Defendants that he was in violation of his parole. He was arrested and transferred back to SCI-Mercer pending a review by the parole board. As a consequence of not completing his enrollment at Penn Pavilion, his parole was revoked.

III.Standard of Review

Defendants have filed Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). A complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct.1937, 1949 (May 18, 2009) (citing Twombly,550 U.S. at 555-57). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The Supreme Court further explained:

The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'"

Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57).

In Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. Aug. 18, 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit discussed its decision in Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232-33 (3d Cir. 2008) (construing Twomblyin a civil rights context), and described how the Rule 12(b)(6) standard had changed in light of Twomblyand Iqbal as follows:

After Iqbal, it is clear that conclusory or "bare-bones" allegations will no longer survive a motion to dismiss: "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. To prevent dismissal, all civil complaints must now set out "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 1948. The Supreme Court's ruling in Iqbal emphasizes that a plaintiff must show that the allegations of his or her complaints are plausible. See Id. at 1949-50; see also Twombly, 505 U.S. at 555, & n. 3.

Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210.

Thereafter, in light of Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside,578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009),set forth the following two-prong test to be applied by the district courts in deciding motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. [Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949]. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 1950. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts. See Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234-35. As the Supreme Court instructed inIqbal, "[w]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. This "plausibility" determination will be "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210-11.

In addition to the complaint, courts may consider matters of public record and other matters of which a court may take judicial notice, court orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint when adjudicating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Oshiver v. Levin,Fishbein, Sedran & Berman,38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citing 5A Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d, ยง 1357; Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pennsylvania Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990)). A court may also consider indisputably authentic documents. Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004); Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993); Golden v. Cook, 293 F. Supp.2d 546, 551 (W.D. Pa. 2003) ("[C]courts are permitted to consider matters of which they may take judicial notice, including records ...

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