United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge.
Reggie Andre Beckton, an inmate confined in the United States
Penitentiary, Lewisburg, (“USP-Lewisburg”),
Pennsylvania, filed the above captioned
Bivens action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331.
(See Doc. 1, complaint). The named Defendants are
Steve Brown, Assistant Health Service Administrator, and
Fasciana Francis, Housing Unit Physician. Id.
alleges that “he gave notice and/or disclosed to
medical staff on numerous occasions that he was experiencing
the following conditions: abdominal pains, abnormal and or
irregular bowel movement, dark red blood in stool, excessive
mucus discharge from rectum in the absence of a bowel
movement, no bowel movement after consuming moderate doses of
laxative, black colored stool(s), burning sensation and or
pain in epidgastric area.” Id.
response, Plaintiff claims that Defendants “provided
[him] with stool sample cards to corroborate this fact, and
then directed him to return the cards after completing any
future bowel movements.” Id. “All (3)
cards were sent to the labs for testing, all (3) cards
returned revealing positive indications for blood being
present in Plaintiff's stool.” Id.
Plaintiff claims that “Medical Staff, having formal
indication return from Plaintiff's lab results
corroborating a finding that blood was indeed present in the
Plaintiff's stool, a request was made by medical staff to
have Plaintiff scheduled to undergo an outpatient colonoscopy
exam, ” which was “approved by the Assistant
Health Service Administrator” as well as the
institution's warden. Id.
claims that “despite having been approved and scheduled
to be sent out to an outside hospital to undergo a
colonoscopy examination, Plaintiff continued to make several
complaints to medical staff regarding his health conditions,
most notably Plaintiff complained of the following
conditions: abdominal pains, abnormal and or irregular bowel
movement, dark red blood in stool, excessive mucus discharge
from rectum in absence of bowel movement, no bowel
movement(s) after consuming moderate doses of laxative, black
colored stool(s), burning sensation and or pains in
epidgastric area; medical staff however failed or refused to
act on the Plaintiff's health concerns and essentially
made efforts to justify such failure or refusal by assuring
the plaintiff that he would eventually be sent out to undergo
his colonoscopy exam”. Id. “Dissatisfied
with medical failure to act and or make a consistent and
complete record of the Plaintiff's medical concerns,
prompted Plaintiff to initiate the institution's
administrative remedy process against medical staff.”
January 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action in which
he requests “the court to determine whether its
constitutionally permissible for health care providers in a
prison institution to receive notice of a medical complaint
filed by a prisoner asserting the following conditions:
abdominal pains, abnormal and or irregular bowel movement,
dark red blood in stool, excessive mucus discharge from
rectum in absence of bowel movement, black tarry stools, no
bowel movement(s) after consuming moderate doses of laxative,
black colored stool(s), burning sensation and or pains in
epidgastric area. . .and essentially fails in its
before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss and, or
in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. (Doc.
12). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe
for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's
motion for summary judgment will be granted
Standards of Review
claims are filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331, in
accordance with Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the
Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, (1971). Under
Bivens, the District Court has federal question
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331 to entertain an
action brought to redress alleged federal constitutional or
statutory violations by a federal actor. Bivens,
supra. Pursuant to Bivens, “a citizen
suffering a compensable injury to a constitutionally
protected interest could invoke the general federal question
jurisdiction of the district court to obtain an award of
monetary damages against the responsible federal
official.” Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 504
(1978). A Bivens-style civil rights claim is the
federal equivalent of an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983 and the same legal principles have been held to
apply. See, Paton v. LaPrade, 524 F.2d 862,
871 (3d Cir. 1975); Veteto v. Miller, 829 F.Supp.
1486, 1492 (M.D.Pa. 1992); Young v. Keohane, 809
F.Supp. 1185, 1200 n. 16 (M.D.Pa. 1992). In order to
state an actionable Bivens claim, a plaintiff must
allege that a person has deprived him of a federal right, and
that the person who caused the deprivation acted under color
of federal law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988); Young v. Keohane, 809 F.Supp. 1185, 1199
Motion to Dismiss
pending dispositive motion is supported by evidentiary
materials outside the pleadings. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(d) provides in part as follows:
If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside
the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court,
the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under
Rule 56. All parties must be given reasonable opportunity to
present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.
Court will not exclude the evidentiary materials accompanying
the Defendant's motion. Thus, the motion will be treated
as solely seeking summary judgment. See Latham v. United
States, 306 Fed.Appx. 716, 718 (3d Cir. 2009) (when a
motion to dismiss has been framed alternatively as a motion
for summary judgment such as in the present case, the
alternative filing “is sufficient to place the parties
on notice that summary judgment might be entered.”)
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a)
“[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[T]his
standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged
factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
disputed fact is “material” if proof of its
existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the
case under applicable substantive law. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d
1070, 1078 (3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is
“genuine” if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v.
Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of
America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).
determining whether there is a genuine issue of material
fact, the court must view the facts and all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Moore v.
Tartler, 986 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1993); Clement v.
Consolidated Rail Corporation, 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d
Cir. 1992); White v. Westinghouse Electric Company,
862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). In order to avoid summary
judgment, however, parties may not rely on unsubstantiated
allegations. Parties seeking to establish that a fact is or
is not genuinely disputed must support such an assertion by
“citing to particular parts of materials in the record,
” by showing that an adverse party's factual
assertion lacks support from cited materials, or
demonstrating that a factual assertion is unsupportable by
admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); see
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (requiring evidentiary support
for factual assertions made in response to summary judgment).
The party opposing the motion “must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Parties must produce
evidence to show the existence of every element essential to
its case that they bear the burden of proving at trial, for
“a complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders
all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 323; see Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846,
851 (3d Cir. 1992). Failure to properly support or contest an
assertion of fact may result in the fact being considered
undisputed for the purpose of the motion, although a court
may also give parties an opportunity to properly provide
support or opposition. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
Statement of Facts
October 16, 2014, Plaintiff reported to sick call, stating
his “hemorrhoids acting up” and “requests
suppositories.” (Doc. 17-1 at 113, Clinical
Encounter). Defendant Fasciana ordered hydrocortisone Acetate
Suppositories for Plaintiff to address his complaint, and
advised him to seek out further medical assistance if his
problem persisted. Id.
December 30, 2014, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Practitioner
Zimmerman, who recorded the following:
Inmate presents to sick call stating that he has had abnormal
bowel movements for a “lengthy period of time”.
States when he defecates he gets traces of blood and
excessive mucus in his stool. Sometimes only gets mucus as a
discharge. Inmate shows me toilet paper with both blood and
mucus on this. Has not had recent bloodwork. Denies any
abdominal pain/distention. Has a history of external
(Doc. 17-1 at 108, Bureau of Prisons Health Services
Clinical Encounter). In response to Plaintiff's
complaints, a Comprehensive Metabolic Profile, CBC w/diff and
Occult Blood x3 was ordered. Id.
January 26, 2015, Plaintiff appeared for his blood work and a
report was issued on January 27, 2016. (Doc. 17-1 at
106, Blood Work Results).
February 23, 2016, an Administrative Note was added to
Plaintiff's medical file, stating the following:
I/M Beckton #55374-056 was given FOB cards X3 on 1-26-15. I/M
was instructed to return the FOB cards within one week. I/M
refused to complete the cards and return them.
(Doc. 17-1 at 102). Plaintiff was counseled that a
refusal of treatment could result in a “deterioration
of your current health status which could cause undetectable
illness, increased illness and also your own death.”
(Doc. 17-1 at 101, Medical Treatment Refusal).
March 20, 2015, Plaintiff reported to sick call with the
Inmate reports to sick call with c/o “a shortage of
blood circulation in my legs”. Also states he gets
headaches, dizzy spells and light headedness when he bends
forward to pick up something and his legs go numb at the same
time and this comes and goes. Has been going on for “a
long time”. Thinks he may have a pinched nerve or
(Doc. 17-1 at 95, Clinical Encounter). Physician
Assistant Seroski noted the following:
Per chart review IM has hx of feigning an illness and non
compliance with medications as well as lab work, however he
did not refuse last lab work and WBC count was abnormal,
therefore I am ordering a repeat on CBC. If WBC still
abnormal may consider HIV testing or vitamin deficiency??
Exam normal today which I discussed with him however he did
not like that answer. Encouraged OTC meds for headache. Will
f/u after lab work if abnormal otherwise RTC if worsens or
repeat bloodwork was performed on April 9, 2015. (Doc.
17-1 at 92, Blood Work Results). An Administrative
Note was entered into his file on April 10, 2015, indicating
that “WBC abnormal however improved from previous ...