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Mori v. Allegheny County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 30, 2014

LONI MORI, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Robert John Dean, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY; ALLEGHENY CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES, INC.; RAMON C. RUSTIN; JAMES DONIS; DANA PHILLIPS; KIMBERLY MIKE-WILSON; MICHAEL PATTERSON; EUGENE YOUNG; JANE DOE NUMBER ONE, an individual whose identity cannot be determined who served as a Medical Assistant for Allegheny Correctional Health Services on the evening of November 2, 2011; SCOTT KANAGY; CORRECTIONS OFFICER PATILLA, a female Corrections Officer employed by Allegheny County whose first name cannot presently be determined; CORRECTIONS OFFICER DAY, a female Corrections Officer employed by Allegheny County whose first name cannot presently be determined; JOHN DOE NUMBER ONE, an Allegheny County Corrections Officer whose identity cannot presently be determined who was stationed in the " E" female housing unit during the evening of November 2, 2011, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For LONY MORI Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Robert John Dean, Plaintiff: D. Aaron Rihn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Peirce Law Offices, Pittsburgh, PA; Elmer R. Keach, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Elmer R. Keach, III, Amsterdam, NY; Scott M. Simon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Robert Peirce & Associates, Pittsburgh, PA.

For ALLEGHENY COUNTY, RAMON C. RUSTIN, JAMES DONIS, SCOTT KANAGY, CORRECTIONS OFFICER PATILLA a female Corrections Officer employed by Alleghen County whose first name cannot presently be determined, CORRECTIONS OFFICER DAY a female Corrections Officer employed by Allegheny County whose first name cannot presently be determined, JOHN DOE NUMBER ONE an Allegheny County Corrections Officer whose identity cannot presently be determined who was stationed in the " E" female housing unit during the evening of November 2, 2011, Defendants: Andrew F. Szefi, Paul R. Dachille, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Allegheny County Law Department, Pittsburgh, PA.

For ALLEGHENY CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES, INC., DANA PHILLIPS, KIMBERLY MIKE-WILSON, MICHAEL PATTERSON, EUGENE YOUNG, Defendants: Stanley A. Winikoff, Dell, Moser, Lane & Loughney, Pittsburgh, PA.

OPINION

David Stewart Cercone, United States District Judge.

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Loni Mori (" plaintiff" ) commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking redress (1) in her own right for the alleged deprivation of her constitutional rights while detained in the Allegheny County Jail and (2) as administratrix of her deceased son for deprivation of his constitutional rights during the same detention. Complaint at ¶ ¶ 1, 4, 56-59. Specifically, plaintiff is the court-appointed administratrix of decedent Robert John Dean's estate. Id. at ¶ 5. As administratrix she advances claims that seek to enforce through section 1983 a survival action and a wrongful death action. Presently before the court is the Allegheny Corrections Health Services defendants' motion to dismiss.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

It is well-settled that in reviewing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) " [t]he applicable

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standard of review requires the court to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Rocks v. City of Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989). Under the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), dismissal of a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is proper only where the averments of the complaint plausibly fail to raise directly or inferentially the material elements necessary to obtain relief under a viable legal theory of recovery. Id. at 544. In other words, the allegations of the complaint must be grounded in enough of a factual basis to move the claim from the realm of mere possibility to one that shows entitlement by presenting " a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

" 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." Id. In contrast, pleading facts that only offer " 'labels or conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" nor will advancing only factual allegations that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability. Id. Similarly, tendering only " naked assertions" that are devoid of " further factual enhancement" falls short of presenting sufficient factual content to permit an inference that what has been presented is more than a mere possibility of misconduct. Id. at 1949-50; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n. 8 (A complaint states a claim where its factual averments sufficiently raise a " 'reasonably founded hope that the [discovery] process will reveal relevant evidence' to support the claim." ) (quoting Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347, 125 S.Ct. 1627, 161 L.Ed.2d 577 (2005) & Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, 421 U.S. 723, 741, 95 S.Ct. 1917, 44 L.Ed.2d 539 (1975)).

This is not to be understood as imposing a probability standard at the pleading stage. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (" 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." ); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 235 (3d Cir. 2008) (same). Instead, " [t]he Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating ... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element ... [and provides] enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.'" Phillips, 515 F.3d at 235; see also Wilkerson v. New Media Technology Charter School Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (" The complaint must state 'enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.'" ) (quoting Phillips, 515 F.3d at 235) (citations omitted). " Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563.

Plaintiff was brought to and detained at the Allegheny County Jail (" ACJ" ) on October 16, 2011. Id. at ¶ 21; She was approximately seven and a half months pregnant. Id. Prior to her detention she was under a physician's care for a " high risk" pregnancy and was scheduled for an ultra-sound due to her need for special medical attention and frequent monitoring of her unborn child, " especially as it related to

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[plaintiff's] placenta." Id. at ¶ 22. ACJ made arrangements for plaintiff to be screened at a prominent medical hospital where she was admitted for 5 days; she was discharged to ACJ on October 21, 2011, with normal findings and told that ACJ officials would schedule a subsequent ultrasound. Id. at ¶ 23.

On November 2, 2011, plaintiff began bleeding from the vagina. Plaintiff activated the call button in her cell and explained to officer Kanagy upon his arrival that she was pregnant, bleeding from the vagina and needed medical assistance. Officer Kanagy responded by sarcastically telling plaintiff she would " get her methadone" and otherwise ignored her plea for help.[2]

Plaintiff made additional attempts to get medical attention throughout the day. She requested help from officer Patilla around 3:30 p.m., explaining she was beyond seven and a half months pregnant, bleeding from the vagina, and in need of medical attention. Officer Patilla simply told plaintiff to " tell Day" and did nothing more. Id. at ¶ 28. After being transferred to another housing unit plaintiff informed officer Day that she was pregnant, bleeding from the vagina and in need on medical assistance. Officer Day told plaintiff to " get away from my desk if you are bleeding" and did not provide any further assistance. Id. at ¶ 29.

Throughout the day plaintiff detected an increase in her baby's movements and an increase in her rate of bleeding; she became increasingly alarmed and upset and experienced cramping and weakness. Id. at ¶ 30. At 6:00 p.m. plaintiff was taken to the health clinic to receive her dose of methadone. Id. at ¶ 31. She begged for medical attention, explaining that she was more than seven and a half months pregnant, had a " high risk" pregnancy, was bleeding throughout the day, the bleeding was increasing, she was experiencing weakness and cramping, and her fetus appeared to be in distress. Id. at ¶ 32. She was told that " if [she] did not fill up a couple of pads she had to go [back down to her housing unit]." Id.

Plaintiff's bleeding increased during the evening hours. She pressed the call button in her cell and was then told that if she continued to do so she would be " locked in" in her own cell. In the middle of the night the correction officer responding to the call did call the infirmary on plaintiff's behalf, did not receive an answer and left a message on the answering system. Id. at ¶ 34. On information and belief, the message intentionally was ignored. Id. at ¶ 35.

Plaintiff's pain and bleeding continued through the morning on November 3, 2011, but her fetus had stopped moving. She was taken to the infirmary and had to wait over an hour while other routine medical care was dispensed to other inmates. After Doctor Young saw plaintiff he directed that she be transported to the hospital immediately. He did not indicate the situation constituted a medical emergency. Plaintiff was taken to a holding cell where she remained for 45 minutes and then transported in a police cruiser instead of an ambulance. During this entire time plaintiff was not examined or given medical attention. Id. at ¶ ¶ 36-37.

At the hospital plaintiff was informed that she had suffered a placental abruption.[3] Id. at ¶ 37. Plaintiff was seen

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in triage and initially treated with medication, which brought her increased pelvic pressure under control. Exhibit 1 to Supplemental Affidavit (Doc. No. 52-1).[4] She then experienced increased pelvic pressure, which culminated in full dilation with fetal parts appearing in the vagina. The fetus presented in footling breach position and was delivered using breach maneuvers. At this time " all four limbs were moving spontaneously." The infant's head then became " entrapped in [the] cervix which had reclamped down on part of the fetal head. After several minutes, the cervix was sweeped away from the head" and the birth was completed. Id. The " infant had heart tones in the 60s after completion of [the] delivery." Id.

Plaintiff was thirty-three weeks along in her pregnancy on November 3, 2011, with an estimated due date of December 21, 2011. Id. at Exhibit B (Doc. 52-1). Prompt medical attention on November 2, 2011, would have prevented the birth in distress and subsequent death of the infant, which was " viable on the date of his death." Amended Complaint at ¶ ¶ 37-39. Plaintiff has suffered severe emotional distress as well as other damages as a result of the loss. Id. at ¶ ¶ 38, 57, 59.

The failure to provide medical care was the result of a custom or practice that developed at the Allegheny County Jail (" ACJ" ). The practice was designed to deprive inmates of medical care, and particularly outside medical consultation and treatment, in order to save money. The practice started after Major Donis conducted an audit that focused on the number and costs of outside medical trips, which led to Dana Phillips instituting a policy that all outside medical treatment had to be approved by her. At times Ms. Phillips, who is an occupational therapist, " overruled the directions of physicians employed by ACHS regarding the need for ACJ inmates to receive outside medical care." Id. at ¶ 40a. This practice had several ramifications, including an atmosphere that discouraged doctors and ACJ staff from instituting measures that would lead to outside medical consultation and treatment. Sick call slips often were not collected or otherwise were not addressed. Telephone calls were left to go to voicemail and then ignored and deleted. Correction officers who did reach the infirmary were often denigrated for undertaking efforts to obtain medical care for inmates. There was no formal written policies pertaining to a host of issues including the triage of inmates, calls from housing units, and the hierarchy of responsibility between doctors and staff in making decisions about inmate health care. The practice also sought to suppress documentation of any problems or shortcomings in the provision of care to inmates. There was no coherent policy or practice pertaining to the medical needs of female inmates, especially those who were pregnant. Id. at ¶ ¶ 40b-40h.

All defendants allegedly violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring her serious medical condition and

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refusing to provide her with appropriate, necessary medical treatment, thereby evincing a deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs. Id. at ¶ 49. These actions and inactions ultimately led to plaintiff experiencing prolonged suffering and caused the death of her son. Id. at ΒΆ 50. The County and ACHS are directly ...


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