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Eddie L. Curbeam, Jr v. Montgomery County Correctional Facility

January 25, 2013

EDDIE L. CURBEAM, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pratter, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Eddie Curbeam, Jr., has filed a pro se complaint against several individuals and entities in which he alleges that he was denied medical care in a Montgomery County prison for a sustained period of time. The various defendants in this action moved to dismiss Mr. Curbeam's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion of Defendants Montgomery County and Julian Algarin, and grants in part and denies in part the motion of Defendants PrimeCare Medical, Inc., Kathryn Hogan, and Debbie McFadden.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

A. Factual Allegations

On May 9, 2012, Mr. Curbeam filed suit against Defendants Montgomery County Correctional Facility, PrimeCare Medical, Inc., Julian Algarin, Kathryn Hogan, and Debbie McFadden. In his pro se complaint, Mr. Curbeam alleges that he injured his back at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in December 2011 when he slipped and fell in a puddle outside a prison shower. Mr. Curbeam alleges that the prison officials took six to eight days to treat this injury, and that the injury damaged his nerves and thereby caused numbness in his body. However, Mr. Curbeam's symptoms allegedly subsided once the prison began to provide him with treatment. On February 27, 2012, Mr. Curbeam received a follow-up evaluation from Ms. Hogan, a nurse employed by PrimeCare Medical. Ms. Hogan allegedly told him that he should be cleared to work in the prison by March 19, 2012. Mr. Curbeam also appears to allege that the prison's medical staff scheduled a subsequent medical appointment for him for March 19.

While the remaining allegations in Mr. Curbeam's complaint are not a model of clarity, he appears to allege that his scheduled March 19 appointment never occurred. Mr. Curbeam also seems to allege that, had this appointment occurred, he would have been instructed to avoid weightlifting. Mr. Curbeam further alleges that he did in fact lift weights on March 24, 2012, and that he experienced severe discomfort and numbness in his right leg the very next day. According to the complaint, this numbness and pain occurred during lunchtime, at which point Ms. McFadden, a nurse for PrimeCare Medical, came to treat Mr. Curbeam and exacerbated his pain by speaking to him "in an unprofessional tone." The complaint also appears to allege that Ms. McFadden transported Mr. Curbeam to the medical department, forced him to perform leg exercises that caused him increased pain, incorrectly recorded his symptoms, and then abruptly ceased to treat him without providing him any medication. According to Mr. Curbeam, he then had to walk back to his prison cell despite his leg pain.

On March 26, 2012, Mr. Curbeam was evaluated again by Ms. Hogan, who allegedly treated him in a discourteous manner and failed to provide him with medication or schedule a follow-up appointment for him.*fn1 Following this appointment, Mr. Curbeam continued to suffer from pain and numbness in his right leg and had difficulty walking and standing. However, he alleges that no doctors evaluated his injury and that he frequently had to walk up stairs because the prison continued to hold him in an upper-level cell. Mr. Curbeam also claims that PrimeCare's staff disliked him and failed to respond to his requests for medical treatment.*fn2

On April 12, 2012, Mr. Curbeam complained to Nancy McFarland, the President of the Board of Inspectors for the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, about his lack of medical care. Four days later, Mr. Curbeam was called to the prison's medical unit, where a new nurse asked him about his health issues, made an appointment for him to see a doctor, and prescribed pain relief medication for him. During this evaluation, Mr. Curbeam allegedly discovered that Ms. Hogan "listed in the computer . . . that I[] did not want . . . medical attention." Docket No. 4 at 21. The complaint also appears to allege that Ms. Hogan fabricated this claim about Mr. Curbeam's desire for treatment in an "act of reprisal" against him. See id.

B. Procedural History

On June 5, 2012, Mr. Curbeam filed a motion for appointment of counsel, which the Court denied without prejudice. On June 19, 2012, PrimeCare Medical, Ms. Hogan, and Ms. McFadden (the "PrimeCare Defendants") filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Curbeam's claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

On July 3, 2012, Mr. Curbeam filed a motion with the Court that addressed several discrete topics and clarified that his complaint included a pendant state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.*fn3 See Docket No. 19 at 4-5. Upon reviewing this motion, the Court construed it as a motion for reconsideration of the order denying appointment of counsel, a request for additional time to either support the request for reconsideration or oppose the PrimeCare Defendants' motion to dismiss, and/or an opposition to that motion to dismiss. The Court then denied the motion in part with respect to the appointment of counsel, granted it in part with respect to giving Mr. Curbeam additional time to respond to the PrimeCare Defendants' motion to dismiss, and noted that it would consider the substance of the motion in adjudicating the motion to dismiss. On July 9, 2012, the Montgomery County Correctional Facility and Mr. Algarin (the "County Defendants") filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them under Rule 12(b)(6). Mr. Curbeam filed a response to both motions on August 29.

II. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Although Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and quotations omitted) (alteration in original), the plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. (citation omitted).

To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead "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 (2009). Specifically, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555(citations omitted). The question is not whether the claimant will ultimately prevail but whether the complaint is "sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold." Skinner v. Switzer, 131 S. Ct. 1289, 1296 (2011) (citation omitted). An assessment of the sufficiency of a complaint is thus "a context-dependent exercise" because "[s]ome claims ...


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