United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JOSHUA I. PAYNE, Plaintiff
JOHN KERESTES, et at., Defendants
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Joshua Payne ("Payne"), an inmate currently
confined at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution, in
Frackville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Mahanoy"), commenced
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1).
Named as Defendants are the following employees of
SCI-Mahanoy: John Kerestes, Hugh Beggs, Jessica Carey, Sara
Falkson, Jeanne Macknight, John Muick, John Steinhart, and
Michael Vuksta, (collectively, "Corrections
Defendants"). (Id. at pp. 2, 5, 6). Also named
as a Defendant is Dr. David Ahner. (Id. at p. 6).
pending before the Court is a motion (Doc. 18) to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by the
Corrections Defendants, and a motion (Doc. 16) to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by
Defendant Ahner. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
will grant each of the pending motions and will grant Payne
an opportunity to amend his complaint.
Standard of Review
complaint must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), if
it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The plaintiff must aver "factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129
S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
a complaint 'does not need detailed factual allegations,
... a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'" DelRio-Mocci v. Connolly
Prop. Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In other words,
"[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level." Covington v.
Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials,
710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted). A court take[s] as true all the
factual allegations in the Complaint and the reasonable
inferences that can be drawn from those facts, but...
disregard[s] legal conclusions and threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements." Ethypharm S.A. France v. Abbott
Laboratories, 707 F.3d 223, 231, n.14 (3d Cir. 2013)
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
and Iqbal require [a district court] to take the
following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a
complaint; First, the court must take 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. Connelly v. Steel Valley Sch. Dist, 706
F.3d 209, 212 (3d Cir. 2013).
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - but it has not show[n] - that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted). This
"plausibility" determination will be a
"context-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
even "if a complaint is subject to Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment
unless such an amendment would be inequitable or
futile." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 245 (3d Cir. 2008).
[E]ven when plaintiff does not seek leave to amend his
complaint after a defendant moves to dismiss it, unless the
district court finds that amendment would be inequitable or
futile, the court must inform the plaintiff that he or she
has leave to amend the complaint within a set period of time.
Allegations of the Complaint
Allegations against the Corrections Defendants
claims in the complaint stem from Payne's alleged
inadequate mental health treatment at SCI-Mahanoy. (Doc. 1).
On May 22, 2014, Payne was transferred to SCI-Mahanoy and
placed in the special needs unit ("SNU") in general
population. (Id. at ¶ 22). Payne alleges that
he is a "mentally ill prisoner" and has been
diagnosed with "phencyclidine use disorder, severe;
schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type; borderline
personality disorder; major depressive disorder, impulse
control disorder, and a delusional disorder." (Doc. 1,
¶ 16). Due to these illnesses, Payne was assigned a
stability code "D" status, indicating that he has
the "most serious" need for mental health services.
(Id. at ¶ 17).
2014, Payne allegedly spoke to Defendant Muick about the
mental health programs available at SCI-Mahanoy.
(Id. at ¶ 23). Defendant Muick allegedly
responded, "I will look into it" (Id. at
¶ 24). On June 23, 2014, Payne claims that he sent a
request to Defendants Muick, Kerestes, Vuksta, Beggs, Ahner,
and Macknight stating that his housing block did not have the
mental health programs that he needed as an inmate with a
stability code "D" status. (Id. at ¶
27). Payne also informed these Defendants that a psychologist
had not visited his housing unit, and that he had not been
allowed to participate in any mental health programs.
(Id.). He claims that his requests were not
answered. (Id. at ¶ 28).
24, 2014, Payne completed a request to staff member form
wherein he requested treatment by a psychologist and
placement in a mental health program, (Id.). He
alleges that this request was not answered, however he states
that he was treated by a psychologist the following week.
(Id. at ¶ 29).
August 2014, Payne was sent to the restricted housing unit
("RHU") pending an investigation for violation of
facility rules. (Id. at ¶ 33).
claims that he sent requests to Defendants Kerestes, Beggs,
Vuksta, Macknight, Ahner, Muick, the Corrections Healthcare
Administrator ("CHCA"), and a John Doe about being
moved to the SNU and placed in mental health programs.
(Id. at ¶ 40). He alleges that his requests
went unanswered. (Id.).
December 2014, Payne claims that he again sent a request slip
to Defendants Kerestes, Beggs, Vuksta, Muick, Ahner, the
CHCA, and Macknight wherein he stated that he was "not
receiving proper mental health treatment" and has not
been able to participate in group sessions. (Id. at
¶ 42). Defendant Kerestes allegedly responded that Payne
first needed to discuss his concerns with his housing unit
team. (Id. at ¶ 43).
January 2015, Payne asserts that he asked Defendant Carey why
he was moved to a different cell block. (Id. at
¶ 44). Defendant Carey allegedly stated that Defendant
Muick initiated his move. (Id. at ¶¶
4445). She further informed Payne that he was going to remain
on the new cell block and he was still classified as a
"D" code status. (Id. at ¶ 45).
Defendant Carey responded to Payne's request slip and
informed him that there are no stability "D" groups
on his block, but emphasized that he sees psychology and
counseling staff regularly. (Id. at ¶¶
4648). Payne alleges that the psychologist and counselor were
not readily available when ...