United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
JOHN D. MINCH, Plaintiff,
VALERIE ABBOTT, former Director, Allegheny Correctional Health Services, and ORLANDO HARPER, Warden of Allegheny County Jail, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CYNTHIA REED EDDY, Magistrate Judge.
Presently pending are the following: the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Harper, Warden of Allegheny County Jail, with brief in support, the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Valerie Abbott, former Director, Allegheny Correctional Health Services, with brief in support (ECF Nos. 28, 29, 30 and 31), the Response in Opposition to the Motions to Dismiss filed by Plaintiff, John D. Minch (ECF Nos. 32 and 33), and the Reply filed by Defendant Harper (ECF No. 35). For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Harper will be granted and the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Abbott will be denied.
Plaintiff, John D. Minch, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at SCI Camp Hill. Plaintiff initiated this action on May 6, 2013, by the filing of a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1). By Order entered on May 15, 2013, the case was dismissed without prejudice as Plaintiff had not submitted a copy of his trust fund account statement. (ECF No. 2). On May 31, 2013, Plaintiff resubmitted a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and to reopen the case, but the motion was denied as Plaintiff again failed to submit the proper paperwork as required by 28 USC § 1915(a)(2). (ECF No. 3).
On July 2, 2013, Plaintiff filed a third motion to proceed in forma pauperis, this time accompanied by the proper paperwork. (ECF Nos. 5 and 6). The case was reopened, the motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted, and the complaint was filed.
On October 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, which remains the operative complaint. (ECF No. 27). Named as Defendants are Valerie Abbott, the former Director of Allegheny Correctional Health Services ("ACHS"),  and Orlando Harper, the Warden of Allegheny County Jail ("ACJ").
According to the Amended Complaint, from June 2011 until October 2013, Plaintiff had been in "severe, near constant pain" as a result of "broken teeth cutting into [his] gums." Complaint at 5. Plaintiff repeatedly requested to be seen by a dentist, but his request was refused "presumably as a cost-saving measure." Id.
On February 6, 2013, Plaintiff wrote an Inmate's Request to Staff Member in which he states that (i) he has been asking for dental care for over two years, (ii) he has been informed by the medical staff that he "will not be receiving the care [he] needs, " and (iii) "if dental care is not available in-house I need to be taken to an outside facility." On February 7, 2013, Major Mikulan, the ACJ grievance officer, forwarded Plaintiff's complaint to the Medical Department. In response, on February 11, 2013, Defendant Abbott replied as follows:
Mr. Minch Minch (sic) 124968, who is complaining of teeth pain, has been seen several times in the last week or so. He is already on Naprosyn and Neurontin for pain but he says he wants something else. He needs to be on antibiotics but has refused them. He is on the list to be seen by dental. Taking the antibiotics as prescribed along with the pain medication should alleviate most of Mr. Minch's problem until he can be seen by a dentist.
Amended Complaint, Exh. 2.
According to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff contends that although Defendant Abbott reported he was "on the list to be seen by dental, " he was not seen until October 2013 by a new medical provider and that he "was not on any list until [he] filed another request in September." Amended Complaint at 3. Further, Plaintiff contends that he was not seen "several times" as Defendant Abbott reported, but rather was seen only one time by the Triage Nurse and that was after he had requested to be seen by a dentist. Resp. at 2 (ECF No. 32). Plaintiff acknowledges he was prescribed Naprosyn and Neurontin for pain, but he states that neither are appropriate for severe pain. Amended Complaint, at 5.
On March 31, 2013, Plaintiff wrote the following letter to Defendant Harper, the Warden of ACJ:
I have already made a grievance report to Major Mikulan on February 06 regarding the refusal of the medical staff to provide necessary dental care. The grievance # is 02-13. I have still not been seen by a dentist. Further, Valerie Abbott has given fake information claiming I was "seen several times" when I was only seen once. If I do not receive care I intend to file a Federal lawsuit. If I need to bring this grievance to a higher authority than you, please inform me of such. The law library on 8D is broken and I have no access to the Inmate Handbook, if such information exists there.
Amended Complaint, Exh. 3. According to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff received no response from the Warden to his letter.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by refusing medical/dental care. He seeks monetary compensation for "real" and punitive damages and completion of all necessary dental work. (Amended Complaint at 3).
Defendants have each filed a Motion to Dismiss, with brief in support, in which they seek to have Plaintiff's claims against them dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The ...