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Lewis v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 22, 2017

JOHN LEWIS, JR., Plaintiff
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Relevant Procedural History

         On April 19, 2016, Plaintiff John Lewis, Jr., an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Albion"), initiated this civil rights action by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint on September 7, 2016, which superseded the original complaint and is the operative pleading in this case. [ECF No. 21]. Named as Defendants are: Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), a medical provider that was under contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide medical services to inmates at SCI-Albion from on or about January 1, 2013 through on or about July 8, 2015; Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("CCS"), a medical provider that has been under contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide medical services to inmates at SCI-Albion since on or about July 9, 2015; and Robert L. Maxa, D.O. ("Maxa"), a medical doctor who has been employed by both Wexford and CCS to provide medical services to inmates at SCI-Albion.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint contains three counts: Count I is an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs asserted against Defendant Maxa; Count II is a pendent state law professional negligence claim against all Defendants; and Count III is a pendent state law breach of contract claim against Defendants Wexford and CCS.

         On September 28, 2016, Defendants filed a partial motion to dismiss [ECF No. 22], seeking dismissal of Counts I and III of the amended complaint, only, arguing that each Count fails to state a cause of action upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff has since filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion [ECF No. 25], in which he voluntarily withdraws Count III of his amended complaint, but argues that Count I adequately states an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

         B. Relevant Factual History

         Prior to his incarceration, Plaintiff was involved in a motorcycle accident that caused him to suffer severe spinal injuries that required four neck and back surgeries, as a result of which he was rendered disabled (ECF No. 21, Amended Complaint, at ¶ 15). Plaintiff's surgeon referred him to the Hershey Medical Center Pain Management Clinic where he was prescribed Methadone and Soma to manage his chronic pain symptoms (Id. at ¶ 16). Thereafter, Plaintiff's primary care physician, Larien G. Bieber, MD, continued to treat Plaintiff's chronic pain with Methadone and Soma (Id. at ¶ 17).

         On June 26, 2012, after Plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI-Albion, Dr. Bieber sent a letter to Defendant Maxa informing him that Plaintiff's pain was being managed with chronic stable Methadone therapy, and Plaintiff alleges that he was continued on Methadone and Soma while at SCI-Albion until March 21, 2014, when he was transferred to SCI-Camp Hill on a writ (Id. at ¶¶ 18-19, 21). For reasons unknown to Plaintiff, his prescriptions for Methadone and Soma were discontinued while he was at SCI-Camp Hill from March 21, 2014 to April 8, 2014, when he was transferred back to SCI-Albion (Id. at ¶ 20).

         Upon his return to SCI-Albion on April 8, 2014, Plaintiff submitted an inmate request to Defendant Maxa asking that his prescriptions for Methadone and Soma be re-ordered because he was in a lot of pain (Id. at ¶ 22). Defendant Maxa allegedly responded that all narcotics and muscle relaxers required the approval of the Regional Medical Director (Id.). On April 17, 2014, Plaintiff was assessed by Defendant Maxa as having chronic neck pain, which Defendant Maxa planned to treat with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ("NSAID") and Elavil. In addition, Defendant Maxa indicated that he would have Plaintiff try Robaxin, a muscle relaxant, for two weeks (Id. at ¶ 24). On April 20, 2014, Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Maxa complaining about not having appropriate pain medication, but Defendant Maxa responded that he could no longer get Soma and was weaning people off narcotics daily. Accordingly, he wrote Plaintiff a prescription for Relafin, an NSAID, because Celebrex, another NSAID, was unavailable (Id. at ¶ 25).

         On May 4, 2014, Plaintiff sent another request to Defendant Maxa stating that the Relafin was not working and complaining that he couldn't sleep or cope with his everyday activities because he was in so much pain (Id. at ¶ 26). On May 12, 2014, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Maxa for a follow-up on his chronic neck pain, but Defendant Maxa refused to prescribe any narcotic medication (Id. at ¶ 28). On May 27, 2014, Plaintiff sent an inmate request to Defendant Maxa complaining that he was suffering "physically and mentally" and asking to be put back on Methadone and Soma twice daily (Id. at ¶ 29). On May 30, 2014, Defendant Maxa responded that Plaintiff was on his "call out" (Id. at ¶ 30). Plaintiff was next seen by Defendant Maxa on July 17, 2014, to follow up on Plaintiff's chronic neck pain and to discuss his request for Methadone and Soma, which Plaintiff had not had since March 21, 2014 (Id.). Defendant Maxa observed that Plaintiff exhibited "no changes from prior exams" and again refused to prescribe any narcotic medication for Plaintiff's chronic pain.

         On May 20, 2015, Plaintiff sent a request to Defendant Maxa asking that he prescribe Methadone and Soma for his chronic pain (Id. at ¶ 32). Defendant Maxa responded on May 26, 2015, that "We have already discussed this and they are not going to be reviewed at this time" (Id. at ¶ 33).

         C. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). See also ...


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