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Holbdy v. Bussanich

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 27, 2015

LEONARD HOLBDY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTHONY BUSSANICH, M.D., et. al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

MARIANI JUDGE

Plaintiff, Leonard Holbdy, an inmate formerly confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, ("USP-Lewisburg"), [1] initiated this action pursuant to Bivens[2], the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA")[3], and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), regarding the medical care he received at USP-Lewisburg in 2008 and 2009. (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are Anthony Bussanich, M.D., CD.; Bryan Wall, EMT-P; D. McClintock, EMT-P; L. Ramirez, MLP; Peoria, P-A-C; Warden (2009), USP-Lewisburg; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; and various additional, unknown agents and employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, USP-Lewisburg. (Id.)

On November 5, 2014, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss and/or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Doc. 18). Subsequently, on November 19, 2014, Defendants filed a statement of material facts, along with a supporting brief and exhibits. (Docs. 19, 20). Plaintiff has not filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion, nor has he requested an extension of time in which to do so. Accordingly, the motion will be deemed ripe for disposition and, for the reasons set forth below, will be granted.

I. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A Motion to Dismiss

A complaint must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The plaintiff must aver "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

"Though a complaint 'does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do."' Del Rio-Mocci v. Connolly Prop, Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In other words, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). A court "take[s] as true all the factual allegations in the Complaint and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those facts, but... disregard[s] legal conclusions and threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ethypharm S.A. France v, Abbott Laboratories, 707 F.3d 223, 231, n.14 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

Twombly and Iqbal require [a district court] to take the following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint: First, the court must take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim. Second, the court should identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.

Connelly v. Steel Valley Sch. Dist, 706 F.3d 209, 212 (3d Cir. 2013).

[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 show[n] - that the pleader is entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). This "plausibility" determination will be a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

However, even "if a complaint is subject to Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment unless such an amendment would be inequitable or futile." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 245 (3d Cir. 2008).

[E]ven when plaintiff does not seek leave to amend his complaint after a defendant moves to dismiss it, unless the district court finds that amendment would be inequitable or futile, the court must inform the plaintiff that he or she has leave to amend the complaint within a set period of time.

Id.

In this case, Defendants have framed their motion as one seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and/or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. See (Doc. 18). When a party moves to dismiss, but where "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).

Typically, when a court converts a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, notice must be given to all parties of the Court's intent to do so. Id.; Garcia v. Newtown Twp., 2010 WL 785808, at *3 (E.D. Pa. 2010). However, if a motion to dismiss has been filed with an alternative request for summary judgment, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the alternative filing is sufficient to "place the parties on notice that summary judgment might be entered." Latham v. United States, 306 Fed.Appx. 716, 718 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Hilfirty v. Shipman, 91 F.3d 573, 578-79 (3d Cir. 1996)). Accordingly, with respect to the issues of timeliness and exhaustion of administrative remedies where Defendants rely upon matters outside the pleadings, the Court will treat Defendants' motion as one for summary judgment.

C. Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, " Fed. R. Civ, P. 56(a); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1111 (3d Cir. 1990). A disputed fact is "material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under applicable substantive law. Id.; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v. Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).

The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. Fed. R, Civ. P. 56; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (stating that the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"); Wooler v. Citizens Bank, 274 Fed.Appx. 177, 179 (3d Cir. 2008). The party opposing the motion must produce evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its case, which it bears the burden of proving at trial, because "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323; see also Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851 (3d Cir. 1992). "[T]he non-moving party 'may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial."' Picozzi v. Haulderman, 2011 WL 830331, *2 (M.D. ...


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