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Ranieri v. Byrne

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 4, 2017

DANIEL RANIERI, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN DAVID BYRNE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Slomsky, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Daniel Ranieri, proceeding pro se, brings this suit against Defendants Warden David Byrne and the Medical Director of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility (collectively, “Defendants”) for alleged violations of Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act.[1] Specifically, Plaintiff asserts a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights arising from Defendants' deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff states that he was arrested in April 2015 at the Gaudenzia House Treatment Center.[2] Plaintiff asserts he was working on personal medical problems at Gaudenzia at the time of his arrest.[3] (Doc. No. 3 at 3.) Following his arrest, Plaintiff was transferred to GWHCF. Plaintiff had been confined there on prior occasions. He alleges that officials at this Facility were aware that he had Hepatitis C based on his prior confinements. Plaintiff also asserts that officials at GWHCF failed to transfer his medical records or medication with him when he was sent to a different prison known as “Gander Hill” in the State of Delaware. This failure, he claims, resulted in severe and permanent liver damage.

         Plaintiff initially claims his medical needs were ignored by GWHCF staff. (Id.) In his Complaint, he alleges that he received no medical treatment from April 2015 to December 4, 2015 while at GWHCF. He claims that he first received treatment on December 23, 2015, only after he left GWHCF, when he was admitted to Christiana Hospital in Delaware. At this time, he was incarcerated at Gander Hill. (Id.) Despite this claim, in subsequent filings and in statements made on the record at the October 5, 2016 hearing, Plaintiff admitted that he received treatment while incarcerated at GWHCF. Plaintiff stated that he was “taking a few blood tests” while at GWHCF. (Doc. No. 24 at 11.) Plaintiff also said that “medical would say, oh, you're okay. You're okay. You're okay[, ]” when he would ask about the blood test results. (Id. at 12.)

         In addition, in his supplemental filings, Plaintiff alleges that he never suffered from high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, or mental health problems. Plaintiff claims, however, that he received treatment for these conditions while at GWHCF. (Doc. No. 26 at 2.) The record shows that as part of his health care regime while at GWHCF, Plaintiff was taking, Amlodipine (Norvasc) 10 mg, once per day, Doxepin (Sinequan) 150 mg, once per day, Fluoxetine (Prozac) 20 mg, two capsules per day, Losartan (Cozaar) 100 mg, once per day, and Metformin HCL 500 mg, once per day.[4] (Doc. No. 26 at Ex. A.)

         Plaintiff asserts that the medical staff at GWHCF knew that he had Hepatitis C and liver damage and that it “was always documented during the intake medical process.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that “[i]ts a fact with liver damage mental health medication should not be given - to anyone, but the Community Education Center medical staff, and [the] medical director totally ignore[d] it and medications are forced on more inmates than should be.” (Id.) Moreover, Plaintiff asserts that he was forced to take medication that “caused further damage to [his] liver [and that he suffers] from [cirrhosis] of [his] liver.” (Id. at 3.) He claims that the Hepatitis C made him tired and the staff at GWHCF would only give him “mental health medicines to [help him] sleep.” (Doc. No. 24 at 14.) Plaintiff admits that he was unhappy with the treatment at GWHCF. (Id. at 15.)

         Upon discharge from GWHCF, Plaintiff asserts that he was given no medication to take with him, even though there are reminders in the holding cell for prisoners to take their medication with them. (Id. at 3-4.) On the record, at the hearing held on October 5, 2016, Plaintiff stated:

Your Honor, on December 4th, I didn't receive any medications. There's a big sign on intake that tells you before you're discharged [to] make sure you tell the sergeant, a CO, or a medical staff to give you your medications. I asked for my medications, the sergeant told me we don't have time for that. You have to go. Delaware is here to pick you up.
They rush me out of there. He said Delaware would have my medications. I got to Delaware, they gave me no medications for [sic] the first 10 days and I fell out and ended up in Christiana Hospital. My whole system shut down because I wasn't getting any medication at all.[5]

(Doc. No. 24 at 8-9.) Plaintiff further claims that “the George W. Hill Prison/Community Education Center staff failed in it[s] duties to send all medications or proof of medication consumption by this [P]laintiff prior to 12/4/2015 and from 4/15/15 to 12/4/15.” (Doc. No. 26 at 6.) As noted, Plaintiff asserts that as a result of this lapse, he went more than ten days without medications while in custody at Gander Hill Prison in Delaware. (Id.) Plaintiff agreed, however, that Defendants were not responsible for medications the State of Delaware failed to give him. (Doc. No. 24 at 9.)

         In support of his claims, Plaintiff stated that he filed several grievances with the Delaware County Prison, but never received a response.[6] (Id.) He also claims that he sent requests to “upper staff” but these requests were never answered. (Id. at 4-5.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that “Coatesville Veterans Hospital [is] addressing [his] ‘liver' damage, that George W. Hill ignored from 4/15/15 to 12/4/15.” (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff asserts that “only when [he] had life threatening problems 2/12/16 did George W. Hill, C.E.C. Medical Staff take, [any] action - four times admitted to Christiana Hospital and Crozer Hospital 12/23/15 to 2/12/16.” (Id.)

         Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in its entirety. (Doc. No. 13.) Plaintiff filed several Responses. (Doc. Nos. 14-16.) A hearing on the Motion was held on October 5, 2016 at which the Court requested Defendants file a Supplemental Motion to Dismiss based on the statements made by Plaintiff on the record supplementing the Complaint. (Doc. No. 22.) On November 4, 2016, Defendant filed a supplemental brief in support of their Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 25.) On November 17, 2016 and November 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed two more responses. (Doc. Nos. 25-26.) The Motion is now ripe for disposition.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The motion to dismiss standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). After Iqbal it is clear that “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; see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ethypharm S.A. France v. Abbott Labs., 707 F.3d 223, n.14 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239, n.27 (3d Cir. 2010)). “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. Applying the principles of Iqbal and Twombly, the Third Circuit in Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121 (3d Cir. 2010), set forth a three-part analysis that a district court in this Circuit must conduct in evaluating whether allegations in a complaint survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss:

First, the court must “tak[e] 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.”

Id. at 130 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679). “This means that our inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged.” Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).

         When determining a motion to dismiss, the court must “accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Where, as here, the complaint is filed pro se, the “complaint, ‘however inartfully pleaded' must be held to ‘less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Fatone v. Latini, 780 F.3d 184, 193 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). It should be dismissed only if it appears “beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [his] claim that would entitle [him] to relief.” Olaniyi v. Alexa Cab Co., 239 Fed. App'x. 698, 699 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing McDowell v. Del. State Police, 88 F.3d 188, 189 (3d Cir. 1996)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Defendants seek dismissal of the Complaint for several reasons.[7] (Doc. No. 13.) The Court will ...


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