United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Gibson, United States District Judge
initiated this case on October 8, 2015, with the filing of a
Complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Pennsylvania. On October 15, 2015, the case was
transferred to this Court and assigned to the undersigned and
referred to United States Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy
for pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrate
Judges Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and the Local Rules
of Court for Magistrate Judges.
amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on March 12, 2014,
while housed at SCI Laurel Highlands, he slipped on an icy
roadway shattering his wrist. He claims that he was denied
prompt and appropriate medical care for his injury and that
the delay in appropriate care necessitated surgery on his
wrist where plates and screws were inserted. In response to
Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint. (ECF No. 30).
filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint (ECF No. 33),
to which j Plaintiff responded in opposition. (ECF No. 38).
On January 12, 2017, Magistrate Judge Eddy is filed a Report
and Recommendation (ECF No. 43) recommending that
Defendants' motion to I i dismiss be
denied. i Before the Court are Defendants' Objections to
the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 45). The Court finds
that Defendants' Objections do not undermine the
recommendation of the Magistrate Judge.
argue that it was error for the magistrate judge to rely on
the allegations of the amended complaint, when the
allegations of the original complaint provided more detail
regarding the extensive medical treatment Plaintiff received
following his injury. Defendants argue that the magistrate
judge erred in relying on West Run Student Housing Assoc,
v. Huntingdon Nat'l Bank, 712 F.3d 165 (3d Cir.
2013), because, according to Defendants, that is a narrow
holding and to apply West Run in this case
"ignores the contrary and logical consequences of its
application." Obj. at 4.
Third Circuit Court of Appeals in West Run held that
dismissal of an amended complaint is not warranted simply
because there are allegations in the amended complaint that
contradict allegations set forth in the original complaint.
The district court in West Run considered
allegations in the original complaint filed by the plaintiff
to be binding judicial admissions and commented that "
'a plaintiff is not permitted to take a contrary position
in a complaint in order to avoid dismissal.'"
Id. at 171 (quoting W. Run Student Housing
Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat'l Bank, Civ. Action
No. 12-76, 2012 WL 1739820 at *6 (W.D. Pa. May 15,
2012)). The court of appeals rejected the
reasoning of the district court and held that "at the
motion to dismiss stage, when the district court typically
may not look outside the four corners of the amended
complaint, the plaintiff cannot be bound by allegations in
the superseded complaint." Id. at 173.
attempts to distinguish West Run and argue that its
holdings and rationale are inapplicable to this case fail to
convince the Court that it should reject the report and
recommendation. Therefore, - in light of West Run -
the Court cannot discern any basis upon which to reject the
recommendation that dismissal of the amended complaint is not
warranted simply because the amended complaint contains
allegations that contradict allegations in the original
defendants argue that the report and recommendation
improperly imputes Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference
liability upon non-medical defendants. Absent reason to
believe (or actual knowledge) that prison doctors or their
assistants are mistreating a prisoner, non-medical prison
official will not be chargeable with the Eighth Amendment
scienter requirement of deliberate indifference. However, in
this case, Plaintiff alleges in his amended complaint that
the Superintendent knew of the icy conditions and that
Defendants, both medical and non-medical personnel,
unnecessarily denied or delayed medical treatment. The
amended complaint specifically avers that although Plaintiff
told C/O Willard that he had fallen and that his wrist was
"fractured, immensely painful, " Defendant Willard
refused to contact the medical department. The amended
complaint also states that he was not seen by an orthopedic
doctor until a week after the medical doctor at SCI-Laurel
Highlands had examined him.
noted in the report, discovery may well reveal that the
alleged conduct of Defendants does not give rise to a
deliberate indifference claim. However, at this early stage
of the litigation, the Court agrees with the magistrate judge
and finds that the amended complaint contains sufficient
allegations for the Court to conclude that there are
plausible claims for deliberate indifference to a serious
de novo review of the pleadings and documents in the
case, together with the Report and Recommendation, and the
Objections thereto, the following order is entered:
NOW, this 7th day of February, 2017:
Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs amended
complaint (ECF No. 33) is DENIED.
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 43) dated January 12,
2017, is ADOPTED as the Opinion of the Court.
Defendants shall file an answer in accordance with Federal