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Jefferson v. Overton

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 30, 2014

LEONARD C. JEFFERSON, Plaintiff.
v.
MAXINE OVERTON, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER[1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Relevant Procedural History

Plaintiff Leonard C. Jefferson, a prisoner formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Albion")[2], originally filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Pennsylvania. Defendants removed the case to this Court pursuant to a Notice of Removal dated July 19, 2013[ECF No. 1]. Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint with this Court on October 7, 2013, which supersedes the original complaint and is the operative pleading in this case [ECF No. 9]. Named as Defendants in the amended complaint are: Maxine Overton ("Overton"), former Correctional Health Care Administrator at SCI-Albion; Christine Zirkle ("Zirkle"), Overton's successor as Health Care Administrator at SCI-Albion; and Jean Oakes ("Oakes"), Infection Control Nurse at SCI-Albion.

In his pro se amended complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, and violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). In addition, Plaintiff has asserted a pendent state law claim of medical negligence. As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive damages.

On October 28, 2013, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint [ECF No. 15], asserting that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff has since filed a brief in response to Defendants' motion, essentially re-asserting the allegations of the amended complaint. [ECF No. 20]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

B. Relevant Factual History[3]

Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from an "obstructed prostate" that requires him to use a urethral catheter to empty his bladder "4 or 5 times daily." (ECF No. 9. Amended Complaint, at ¶¶ 10-12). Defendants provide Plaintiff with seven (7) catheters each week, thus requiring him to wash and re-use the same catheter several times each day. (Id. at ¶¶ 14-16). Plaintiff's requests for additional catheters, as well as sterile gloves and antiseptic wipes, were denied by Defendants. (Id. at ¶22). Over the two-year period preceding the filing of his complaint, Plaintiff suffered nine (9) urinary tract infections, which he attributes to the fact that he has only been provided one catheter to use each day. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-18). As a result, Plaintiff alleges that his "prostate has become severely, and maybe permanently, infected." (Id. at ¶ 27).

C. Standards of Review

1. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) 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. 544, 570 (2007)(rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

The Court need not accept inferences drawn by plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp. , 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. Although the United States Supreme Court does "not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id . at 570.

In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is "required to makeàshowing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Smith v. Sullivan , 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D.Del. February 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). "This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element." Phillips , 515 F.3d at 234, quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556.

The Third Circuit Court has prescribed the following three-step approach to determine the sufficiency of a ...


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