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Hinerman v. Karnes

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 23, 2014

ISSAC S. HINERMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT KARNES, et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Isaac C. Hinerman, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Hinerman brings claims against three state correctional authorities, alleging that he was denied adequate medical care. At the time of the filing of his complaint, Hinerman was incarcerated at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institute in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Pending before this Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 14).

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is a pro se prisoner civil rights action, initiated upon the filing of the original complaint in this matter on March 5, 2014, to redress injuries allegedly sustained by Plaintiff Isaac C. Hinerman from a seizure causing him to fall from the top bunk of his cell. (Doc. 1). Specifically, Hinerman alleges that he was assigned to a top bunk despite prison staff Defendants' Robert Karnes and Tony Hauck's awareness of his medical condition. (Doc. 1). He also alleges that the prison physician discontinued his seizure medication shortly after his fall, which caused him to suffer another seizure while in court on August 29, 2013. He also avers that his medication was not administered to him until one month after that alleged seizure. (Doc. 1). Hinerman seeks money damages and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the deprivation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On July 1, 2014, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 14), together with a brief in support of the motion (Doc. 15). On August 11, 2014, this Court issued an Order directing Hinerman to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss by August 18, 2014. Hinerman did not respond to the motion. As such, Defendants' motion to dismiss is now ripe for disposition.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) provides that a complaint should be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, discussing the evolving standards governing pleading practice in federal court, has stated in relevant part:

Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), continuing with our opinion in Phillips [v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224 (3d Cir. 2008)]and culminating recently with the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1955, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), pleading standards have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to plead more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to dismiss.

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209-10 (3d Cir. 2009).

In considering whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom are to be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). However, a court "need not credit a complaint's bald assertions' or legal conclusions' when deciding a motion to dismiss." Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). A court need not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts that the plaintiff has not alleged. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). A plaintiff must provide some factual grounds for relief which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555. In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court held that, when considering a motion to dismiss, a court should "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Additionally, a document filed pro se is "to be liberally construed." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, " must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers" and can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court may consider the facts alleged on the face of the complaint, as well as "documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice." Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).

I. DISCUSSION

A. LACK OF PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT

Defendants seek the dismissal of Hinerman's § 1983 claims against Defendants Karnes and Hauck under Rule 12(b)(6) because the complaint fails to allege any personal involvement by Defendants Karnes and Hauck in the ...


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