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Wylie-Biggs v. Harper

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 20, 2015


OPINION Re: ECF Nos. 29, 35.

MAUREEN P. KELLY, Chief Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court are two Motions to Dismiss concerning claims filed by Edwin Wylie-Biggs ("Plaintiff"), acting pro se, against Defendant Corizon Health Services ("Corizon") and against Defendants Orlando L. Harper, William Emerick, Jesse Andrascik, Simon Wainwright and Deputy Warden Long ("the County Defendants"). ECF Nos. 29 and 35. The Complaint contains claims which can be categorized as: (1) medical malpractice; and (2) civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. ECF No. 3

For the following reasons, the County Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 29, is granted with leave to file an Amended Complaint only as to Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment civil rights claims of denial as to medical care and denial of access to courts. Corizon's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 35, is granted with leave to file an Amended Complaint only as to Plaintiff's claims under Section 1983.


A. Procedural History

The relevant procedural history is as follows. Plaintiff filed his Complaint on September 30, 2014. ECF No. 3. The County Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on December 16, 2014. ECF No. 29. Corizon filed its Motion to Dismiss and brief in support thereof on December 24, 2014. ECF Nos. 35, 36. Plaintiff filed a response to the County Defendants' Motion on January 13, 2015, ECF No. 40, and he filed a response to Corizon's Motion on March 10, 2015, ECF No. 45. Corizon filed a reply brief in further support of its Motion to Dismiss on March 11, 2015. ECF No. 46. Plaintiff filed a reply brief in further support of his response to Corizon on March 30, 2015. ECF No. 47. Plaintiff also filed a Certificate of Merit on March 30, 2015. ECF No. 48. Both Motions to Dismiss are now ripe for consideration.

B. Claims

Plaintiff's Complaint contains the following allegations. On April 17, 2014, Plaintiff, an inmate at the Allegheny County Jail ("ACJ"), was charged with possession of contraband for a cell phone and prescription drugs. ECF No. 3 at 13. On the same date, Plaintiff was taken to the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") by Defendant Andrascik, a sergeant at ACJ. Id. at 13. On April 27, 2014, Defendant Andrascik "gave" Plaintiff 30 days in the RHU for his "contraband misconduct." Id. at 14. On May 17, 2014, Plaintiff was released from the RHU. Id. On May 19, 2014, Plaintiff was placed back into the RHU in administrative custody by Defendant Andrascik. As a condition of placement in the RHU, Plaintiff was the subject of multiple restrictions which he claims were improper, including limited access to materials in the law library. Id. at 14-15.

Plaintiff also alleges that on April 22, 2014, he began to "write sick call slips to medical" about pain in his right wrist and the lack of pain medication he had received since his initial placement in the RHU on April 17, 2014. Id. at 15. Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to Defendants Major Wainwright, Deputy Warden Long and Warden Harper complaining about his medical treatment. Id. Plaintiff asserts that his requests for medical care continued for approximately two months and included complaints about loss of feeling, numbness, pain and pins protruding from the wrist. Id. He also claims that ACJ employees contacted "medical" (Defendant Corizon) about Plaintiff's condition but received no response. Id. at 15-16. On June 19, 2014, Plaintiff passed out and suffered seizure-like symptoms. Id. at 16. On that date, a person identified as "Doctor Dave" performed "surgery" on Plaintiff, removing the pins from his wrist. Id. Later, when Plaintiff suffered a lack of mobility in his wrist, he discovered that "Doctor Dave" was actually a nurse who was neither authorized nor licensed to perform this surgery at ACJ. Id. Plaintiff concludes his claims thusly:

The Plaintiff is suffering from pain, loss of use in right wrist and hand, infection, sleep deprivation [due] to pain and nothing prescribed for pain by medical staff, retaliation by whole Corizon Medical and Allegheny County Jail Administration, and cruel unusual punishment/treatment.



Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Dismissal of a complaint or portion of a complaint is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) when a claimant fails to sufficiently state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Avoiding dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) requires that the complaint to provide "enough factual matter (taken as true)" to suggest the required elements of the claim presented. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). The pleader must "nudge his or her claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 at 570 (2007)).

In assessing the merits of a claim subject to a motion to dismiss, a court must accept all alleged facts as true and draw all inferences gleaned therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 228 (citing Worldcom, Inc. v. Graphnet, Inc., 343 F.3d 651, 653 (3d Cir. 2003)). A pleading party need not establish the elements of a prima facie case at this stage; the party must only "put forth allegations that raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s].'" Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 213 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Graff v. Subbiah Cardiology Associates, Ltd., 2008 WL 2312671 (W.D. Pa. June 4, 2008)).

Pro se pleadings are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); United States ex rel. Montgomery v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969) (petition prepared by a prisoner may be ...

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