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Parran v. Voorstead

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 7, 2014

RANDALL EUGENE PARRAN, Plaintiff
v.
THEODORE VOORSTEAD, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Randal Eugene Parran ("plaintiff"), an inmate formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill ("SCI-Camp Hill") initiated this civil rights action on February 5, 2013. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via an amended complaint. (Doc. 28). Named as defendants are the following individuals: Theodore Voorstead ("Voorstead"), E.A. Shoop ("Shoop"), C.O. Taylor ("Taylor"), Mihul, Swartz, Laurel R. Harry ("Harry"), Timothy Henry ("Henry"), Steven Whalen ("Whalen"), James Meintel ("Meintel"), Kathleen Zwierzyna ("Zwierzyna"), John Horner ("Horner"), Paul Leggore ("Leggore"), and L.T. France ("France"). Presently pending is a motion (Doc. 50) to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed on behalf of Shoop, Taylor, Mihul, Swartz, Harry, Henry, Whalen, Meintel, Zwierzyna, Horner, Leggore, and France.[1] For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Standard of Review

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must "accept as true all [factual] allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts contained in the complaint, it "may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994); See also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide "the defendant notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the complaint in the face of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry. See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, "the court must tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'" Id . (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id .; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the well-pleaded factual allegations have been isolated, the court must determine whether they are sufficient to show a "plausible claim for relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (requiring plaintiffs to allege facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level"). 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

II. Allegations of the Complaint

In December 2012, plaintiff was housed in the Special Management Unit ("SMU") at SCI-Camp Hill. (Doc. 1, ¶ 6). Between December 10, 2012, and December 16, 2012, defendants Taylor, Mihul and Swartz, who "work regularly in the S.M.U. program, " purportedly starved plaintiff and threatened to tamper with his food if he did not denounce his Muslim religion. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-9). This allegedly led to a court order directing him to be force fed from December 24, 2012 to January 4, 2013. (Id.) He consumed his first solid meal on January 4, 2013. (Id. at ¶ 24). The following day, he suffered severe stomach pain and "started spitting up from eating meat." (Id.) He indicates that he "explained to Dr. Voorstead that he cannot eat meat and was allergic to soy. As the meat was causing him sever[e] pain and the soy was causing him to spit up have dirrai [sic] and throat would feel like he can't breath [sic]. Dr. Voorstead never put [him] on a special diet so he would not be subject to these dangers." (Id. at ¶ 25).

He alleges that on January 27, 2013, defendants Mihul and Taylor, who were not accompanied by a lieutenant as required by SMU policy, delivered him an unsealed food tray with food covered in spit. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 14). When he questioned Mihul and Taylor about the condition of his food tray, they allegedly responded that the spit was in his food because he lied on grievances. (Id. at ¶ 12). On February 4, 2013, defendant Taylor allegedly commented "I wouldn't eat this one Parran. You know whos [sic] on." (Id. at ¶ 19). On February 13, 2013, he indicates that he spoke with the Unit Manager about the spit in his food and the Unit Manager responded "Staff did not spit in your food!" (Id. at ¶ 17).

Plaintiff alleges that he informed defendant Shoop of his "not eating for 26 days and that he was unable to eat meat and soy, " but Shoop failed or refused to provide him with a proper diet or treatment. (Id. at ¶ 26). He indicates that he is still on an alternate protein diet "which consists of a lot of soy" and, despite the submission of numerous sick call requests, he is being denied treatment for his medical problems. (Id. at ¶¶ 27, 29). It is not clear when, but he alleges that, at one point, he was transported to an outside hospital "due to internal bleeding coughing up volumes of blood and body matter." (Id. at ¶ 9).

He alleges that defendants Harry, Henry, Meintel, Zwierzyna, Whalen, France, Horner, and Leggore "make[SMU] policies/training management decisions, " and "know and or maintain an unconstitutional practice/policy to place officers (Sgt. Swartz, Milhul, Taylor and others) with deplorable records in the S.M.U. or who have deplorable records to stay in the S.M.U. to have them or know that they would continue to carry out unconstitutional and inappropriate acts upon inmates such as denying inmates food, spitting or tempering with inmate's food..." (Id. at ¶¶ 7, 31). He also avers that defendants obstructed his access to the grievance procedure and conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-23, 28, 36).

III. Discussion

Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege "the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by ...


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