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Matos v. Prison Health Service Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 7, 2015

PRISON HEALTH SERVICE INC., et al., Defendants.


JOEL H. SLOMSKY, District Judge.


Plaintiff Michael Matos, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against Defendants Mental Health Management, Inc. ("MHS") and Prison Health Services, Inc. ("PHS") based on events arising while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands ("SCI Laurel Highlands") in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to receive adequate medical care based on an alleged failure to respond to Plaintiff's medical needs. Defendants have each filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. For reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motions.


In 2013, Plaintiff was a prisoner at SCI Laurel Highlands. (Doc. No. 4 at 1.) At this facility, Defendant PHS was responsible for the medical care of inmates, and Defendant MHM was responsible for their mental health care. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that during his incarceration, he submitted sick call slips requesting treatment for lower back inflammation, depression, and anxiety to the medical and mental health departments at the prison. (Id. at 3.) He contends that "[a]dministration did not respond at all" to his requests, and asserts that the failure to respond violated his Eighth Amendment right to receive adequate medical care. (Id. at 4.)

In his Complaint, Plaintiff does not include specific factual allegations about his alleged mistreatment, but instead attaches two forms to support his claim. One form is a document titled "Sick Call Request" dated March 16, 2013, and the other form is an undated document titled "Inmate Grievance Form." (Doc. No. 4 at 8, 9.)

In the Sick Call Request form, which was filled out by Plaintiff, he complained that his lower back was bothering him due to a fall from a bunk bed. (Doc. No. 4 at 8.) Plaintiff had been treated with Motrin after the fall, and in the form requested a stronger drug to treat the pain. (Id.) In the portion of the form completed by the Medical Unit, a nurse wrote "[y]ou will go for an x-ray LS spine to find out what's wrong with your back." (Id.) Plaintiff wrote on the form, apparently after receiving the x-rays, that "[t]hey found something wrong but the nurse tried to explain but she didn't know how to." (Id.) The form indicated that his request was received and addressed on the same day.

The second form Plaintiff attached to the Complaint is the Inmate Grievance Form and is seemingly unrelated to his physical and mental health issues. (Doc. No. 4 at 10.) In this form, Plaintiff wrote that he was being housed in a two-man cell with three people. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that being housed with two other inmates caused him "a great amount of stress and frustration" as the cell-mates "know each other from the streets and don't have know [sic] respect for me while I'm trying to sleep they stay up until 4 AM talking and raping [sic]." (Id.) Where the form asks "[d]escribe how and when you tried to resolve this Grievance [sic] formally, " Plaintiff wrote "[t]he jail is overcrowded and that's all they tell me." (Id.) Aside from the blanket statements found throughout the Complaint that his medical and mental health needs were not addressed, Plaintiff includes no other information about his physical or mental health.

On July, 28, 2014, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 1.) On August 25, 2014, the Court granted his application. (Doc. No. 3.) His Complaint was then filed against MHM and PHS in which he asserts one claim-a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to receive adequate medical care. (Doc. No. 4.) Plaintiff does not attribute any specific actions to MHS or PHS other than the actions described above. In the Complaint, he uses the boilerplate language that Defendants "acted with deliberate indifference towards [Plaintiff's] serious medical needs...." (Id. at 3.)

On November 20, 2014, MHS filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, and on December 1, 2014, PHS also filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. Nos. 8, 12.) After Plaintiff failed to timely respond to Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, this Court ordered Plaintiff to respond by February 11, 2015. (Doc. No. 17.) On January 22, 2015, Plaintiff filed the Response to both Motions. (Doc. No. 18.)


To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a lawsuit must state a plausible claim. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, (2007)). "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. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice" to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Id. at 663. Applying this principle, the Third Circuit explained in Malleus v. George that the inquiry requires that a district court: "(1) identify[] the elements of the claim, (2) review[] the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) look[] at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluate whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged." 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679).

A complaint must do more than allege a plaintiff's entitlement to relief, it must "show" such an entitlement with its facts. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (citing Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008)). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The "plausibility" determination is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

Where, as here, the complaint is filed pro se, the court must "read a pro se plaintiff's allegations liberally and apply a less stringent standard to the pleading of a pro se plaintiff than to a complaint drafted by counsel." McGrath v. Johnson, 67 F.Supp.2d 499, 505 (E.D. Pa. 1999). Nevertheless, even pro se ...

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