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Heaton v. Delbalso

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 28, 2017

CHRISTOPHER HEATON, Plaintiff
v.
THERESA DELBALSO, et al., DR. GUSTITUS, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          JAMES M. MUNLEY United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Christopher Heaton (“Heaton” or “plaintiff”), at all times relevant an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy (“SCI-Mahanoy”), Frackville, Pennsylvania, commenced this civil rights action on April 6, 2016. (Doc. 1). Heaton names the following defendants: Theresa Delbalso (“Delbalso”), Superintendent; John Steinhart (“Steinhart”), Health Care Administrator; and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”). Presently pending are defendants' motions (Docs. 22, 24) to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the motions will be granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “accept as true all [factual] allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts contained in the complaint, it “may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case.” Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

         Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide “the defendant notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the complaint in the face of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry. See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, “the court must ‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id.; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the well-pleaded factual allegations have been isolated, the court must determine whether they are sufficient to show a “plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, 556U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (requiring plaintiffs to allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level”). 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         II. Allegations of the Complaint

         Heaton alleges that on March 31, 2014, while working in the kitchen at SCI-Mahanoy, he slipped and injured his left shoulder. (Doc. 1, p. 3). The pain stayed with him and he “found out about 6 months later that [he] tore [his] rotator cuff in [his] left shoulder.” (Id.) He alleges that he has been “given the run around” for almost two years. (Id.) Physical therapy was unsuccessful. (Id.) His therapist allegedly informed him that surgery was his only viable option. (Id.)

         He alleges that despite informing the medical department that he continually experiences pain when he lifts his shoulder and that his ability to exercises is limited by the injury, he has “had no remedy.” (Id.)

         He seeks proper diagnosis and treatment by a board certified surgeon and orthopedist and physical therapy. (Id. at 4). He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id.)

         III. Discussion

         Heaton brings this civil rights action pursuant to Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code. Section 1983 offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .

Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996).

         A. Defendants ...


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