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Talbert v. Correctional Dental Associates

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 22, 2017

CHARLES TALBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL DENTAL ASSOCIATES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          STENGEL, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The pro se plaintiff in this case, Charles Talbert, brings various claims against defendant Correctional Dental Associates (“Correctional Dental”) relating to dental care he received while incarcerated at Philadelphia Industrial Correction Center (“PICC”). Talbert's complaint brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986, and Pennsylvania state law for negligence.[1]

         Correctional Dental filed a motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff's negligence claim. Correctional Dental argues summary judgment should be granted because plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit in support of his medical negligence claim, as is required by Pennsylvania law. I will grant the motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at PICC. According to plaintiff's complaint, Correctional Dental is a private corporation that provides dental care services to the Philadelphia Prison System.

         While incarcerated at PICC, plaintiff began filing “sick call” requests with Correctional Dental employees regarding a tooth ache he had. (Id. ¶ 9). Correctional Dental employees eventually x-rayed plaintiff's tooth, which revealed an infection. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10). They then referred plaintiff to an off-site oral surgeon who performed an extraction of the tooth. (Id. ¶ 11).

         In the months that followed, various Correctional Dental employees told plaintiff that Correctional Dental does not refer inmates off-site for oral surgeries. (Id. ¶¶ 12-14, 16, 18-20). These Correctional Dental employees also told plaintiff that the City's insurance did not cover off-site dental procedures for inmates. (Id.) In February 2016, on two separate occasions, plaintiff was brought to the triage center at PICC where he was treated for a tooth infection. (Id. ¶¶ 15-17). From June 2015 through March 2016, plaintiff was prescribed “2 weeks worth” of antibiotics for his infection. (Id. ¶ 23). Plaintiff's infected tooth eventually “broke off, ” prompting him to file several sick call requests with Correctional Dental. (Id. ¶ 25). Plaintiff alleges Correctional Dental and its employees failed to treat his tooth infection, despite knowing about it. (Id. ¶¶ 27-31).

         One of the claims in plaintiff's complaint is “for tortious behavior under Pennsylvania state law.” (Id. ¶ 1). Plaintiff avers that he “invokes the pendent jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) to decide the asserted . . . tort claims.” (Id. ¶ 2).

         On November 10, 2016, Correctional Dental filed a Notice of Intention to Enter Judgment of Non Pros for Failure to File a Certificate of Merit. (Doc. No. 42). Correctional Dental indicated its intent to file a motion for summary judgment if plaintiff did not file a certificate of merit, within 30 days, in support of his negligence claims. Plaintiff filed a response, conceding that his claims against Correctional Dental are “based upon deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition, not negligence or medical malpractice.” (Doc. No. 44 ¶ 2).[2] To this day, plaintiff has not filed a certificate of merit.

         On December 23, 2016, Correctional Dental filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of all negligence-related claims because plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit. Plaintiff filed a response, again emphasizing he “filed a 1983 claim against . . . Correctional Dental Associates.” (Doc. No. 53 at 1).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows 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). A factual dispute is “material” only if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). For an issue to be “genuine, ” a reasonable fact-finder must be able to return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Id.

         A party seeking summary judgment initially bears responsibility for informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing relevant portions of the record, including depositions, documents, affidavits, or declarations, or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or showing that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Summary judgment is therefore appropriate when the non-moving party fails to rebut the moving party's argument that there is no genuine issue of fact ...


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