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Torres v. Yocum

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 30, 2014

ANGEL TORRES, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. JEFFREY YOCUM, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

ROBERT D. MARIANI, District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 24, 2011, Plaintiff, Angel Torres, filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 naming as Defendants employees at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility ("LCCF") in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and a doctor independently contracted by the LCCF. (Doc. 1). The complaint alleges constitutional violations for the medical care Torres received while incarcerated at the LCCF and the grievances related to that medical care.[1] (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are Warden Robert J. Karnes, Deputy Warden Anthony Hauck, Nurse Trudy Seyfert, [2] Nurse Eva Neuin, Nurse Jacqueline Matias, [3] and Dr. Jeffrey Yocum[4]. (Doc. 1). The moving Defendants, Karnes, Hauck, Seyfert, Neuin, and Matias, were employees at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility ("Lebanon County Defendants") at all times relevant to this matter.[5] (Doc. 39). On March 16, 2012, the Lebanon County Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment, supporting brief, statement of material facts, and exhibits. (Docs. 37-40). On June 5, 2012, Torres filed abrief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, a responsive statement of material facts, and exhibits. (Docs. 54, 55). On June 18, 2012, the Lebanon County Defendants filed a reply brief. (Doc. 57). Torres filed additional exhibits on October 16, 2012. (Doc. 66). The motion is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons set forth below, will be denied.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Gir. 1990). Adisputed fact is "material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id. ; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Gir. 1992). An issue of material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v. Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Gir. 1991).

The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of agenuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to agenuine issue. FED. R. CIV. P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (stating that the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"); Wooler v. Citizens Bank, 274 Fed.Appx. 177, 179 (3d Cir. 2008). The party opposing the motion must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case, which it bears the burden of proving at trial, because "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323; see also Harler v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992). "[T]he non-moving party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must... set out specific facts showing agenuine issue for trial'" Picozzi v. Haulderman, 2011 WL 830331, *2 (M.D. Pa. 2011) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)(2)). "Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of Norlh America. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cerl. denied, 507 U.S. 912 (1993).

III. ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT

The complaint, (Doc. 1), alleges the following facts:

Torres entered the LCCF on September 1, 2010. (Doc. 1, ¶ 1). On September 2, 2010, Torres was treated in the infirmary for aroutine check-up by Defendants Seyfert and Neuin. (Doc. 1, ¶ 2). At this examination, Torres informed Defendants Seyfert and Neuin that he was HIV positive, he was diagnosed nineteen (19) years earlier, he was chronically ill, and he took Atripla and multivitamins. ( Id. ). Torres also informed them of his doctor's name, address and telephone number, and the hospital where he previously received treatment. (Doc. 1, ¶ 3). Additionally, Torres stated that he suffered from neuropathy, back problems, and severe depression, and he listed the medications he took for these ailments. (Doc. 1, ¶ 4). Defendant Seyfert inquired as to how Torres would pay for his medications and Defendant Neuin asked if he had insurance. (Doc. 1, ¶ 5). Torres indicated that he did not have insurance and Defendant Seyfert stated that he would not get his medications from the LCCF since he could not pay for them. ( Id. ). Torres alleges that Defendants Seyfert and Neuin were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in that they knew of the importance of his medications, but nevertheless denied him medical attention. (Doc. 1, ¶ 6).

Torres wrote to Tina Verna, the facility counselor, seeking an interview in order to call his doctor in New York to obtain his medications. (Doc. 1, ¶ 7). Counselor Verna wrote back to Torres and stated that "he had no proof."[6] ( Id. ).

Torres wrote to Defendant Matias on numerous occasions informing her of his serious medical need for his medications. (Doc. 1, ¶ 8). Defendant Matias failed to respond and ignored Torres' requests for help. ( Id. ).

Torres wrote letters to Dr. Yocum detailing his serious medical needs and indicating that he was not receiving his medications because he did not have insurance. (Doc. 1, ¶ 9). Dr. Yocum failed to reply. ( Id. ). Torres spoke to Dr. Yocum in person on one occasion during asick call. ( Id. ).

After not receiving medical treatment for months, Torres wrote a letter to Defendant Hauck, the Deputy Warden, outlining his medical condition, the seriousness of his medical needs, and the medications he was not receiving. (Doc. 1, ¶ 10). Defendant Hauck did not answer Torres' letter. ( Id. ).

Torres next wrote a letter to the Warden, Defendant Karnes, informing him of his chronic illness and the denial of his serious medical needs. (Doc. 1, ¶ 11). Torres alleges that his efforts to contact Defendant Karnes were unsuccessful and he never received a reply. ( Id. ).

When Torres initially arrived at the LCCF in September 2010, his CD4 count was 350. (Doc. 1, ¶ 9). In June 2011, his CD4 count dropped to 125 due to the denial of medical treatment. ( Id. ).

After seven (7) months of not receiving the requisite medical attention, Torres filed two (2) grievances concerning the medical treatment at the LCCF. (Doc. 1, ¶ 12). Torres then refers to one of the grievances, though he does not indicate which one, and states that Prison Administration forwarded the grievance to the Medical Department, which was denied. ( Id. ). Torres appealed the denial to Defendant Karnes, but his medical concerns were ignored. ( Id. ). Torres then appealed to the Commissioner, who did not reply. ( Id. ).

The complaint alleges that the LCCF prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Torres' serious medical needs causing him injury and mental and emotional anguish. (Doc. 1, ¶ 13).

IV. STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS

Except where expressly noted as disputed, the following facts of ...


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