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Brodie v. Fisher

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 23, 2017

Supt. JOHN D. FISHER, et al., Defendants


          Malachy E. Mannion United States District Judge.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate formerly confined in the Smithfield State Correctional Institution (“SCI-Smithfield”), Huntingdon, Pennsylvania[1], filed the above captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are the following employees of the Department of Corrections and SCI-Smithfield: Chief Grievance Officer Dorina Varner, former Superintendent Jon D. Fisher, Grievance Officer Lisa Hollibaugh, former Safety Manager David Fultz, Registered Nurse Supervisor Mary Moyer, Nurse Lisa, Lieutenant Gaff and Correctional Officers Vough and Rhodes. Id.

         Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. 13). The motion is fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the motion.

         II. Allegations in Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on March 17, 2014, at approximately 8:30 p.m., during block recreation, Plaintiff “cut his right hand/finger on the edge of the table provided for inmates to play cards; dominos; or any other games”. (Doc. 1). He claims that on this date and time, Defendant Rhodes was working the triage area and instructed Defendant Vough to transport Plaintiff to the Medical Department of the jail. Id.

         Upon arriving at the Medical Department, Defendant, Nurse Lisa, “attended the gaping wound on Plaintiff's right hand/finger; as the report to Lieutenant Gaff was made by said Nurse, the wound's severity was beyond the jail's ability to repair.” Id. Lt. Gaff then “made a notification to center control that there were no doctors in the prison and that a transport to an outside facility (hospital) was necessary.” Id. Plaintiff states that “amid said request, Nurse Lisa took other measures to impede the emergency request of sending Plaintiff to the outside facility by calling ‘Doctor Vincent' to come in three hours later to come to work while the gaping wound to Plaintiff's hand/finger remained open to infection, thus treating such emergency as mediocre.” Id. Dr. Vincent then “treated the gaping wound by numbing the wound by spraying it; giving Plaintiff a needle; then stitching it up and wrapping it with gauze.” Id. Plaintiff claims that “as a result of the gross negligence of medical staff and otherwise, Plaintiff's hand and finger loss feeling in certain areas and has a contemporary (sic) condition that impedes certain movements that are pivotal to writing and holding material in said right hand.” Id.

         On March 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed Grievance No. 5023020-14, “demanding to be compensated for the pain and injuries endured due to the deliberate indifference of said facilitator's negligence in ignoring the antecedent caveats of said injurious structure of the table in the recreation room.” Id.

         On March 20, 2014, grievance Coordinator Lisa Hollibaugh “acknowledged said grievance” and on March 28, 2014, Safety Manager David Fultz “responded to the grievance with a denial”, stating that “the sharp edges on the tables had been removed as of March 25, 2014.” Id.

         On April 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed an appeal of the denial of Grievance No. 5023020-14 to the Superintendent, “contending the culpable neglect of said Maintenance Safety Manager, thus, re-asserting the compensation request.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 14, 2014, the Superintendent affirmed the Safety Manager's denial, “under the guise that the issue had been resolved insofar as, after the issue contended had transpired; Maintenance (Mr. Fultz) had taken corrective action.” Id.

         Plaintiff states that “subsequently, on April 21, 2014, the issue was appealed to the Final Review, Secretary's Office for which a constituent for Dorina Varner, Chief Grievance Officer, whereas her reasoning for upholding the response of her subordinates was identical to Superintendent Jon D. Fisher; but she actually denied compensation”, stating that her “reasoning for upholding the response of Facility Employees of Smithfield was that because the injuries were attended to after the being injured by the negligence of said Officers, and therefore, Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for those reasons.” Id.

         After the incident Plaintiff claims to have submitted a request to staff to be seen by Dr. Vincent because he “was losing feeling in the right hand, and also to notify him that [Plaintiff's] hand was purple and swollen.” Id. Dr. Vincent gave Plaintiff “an unknown prescription pain pill for a few days” at the end of which Plaintiff”s “felling in [his] hand was completely gone and felt like it was completely numb.” Id.

         Plaintiff claims that “thereafter, [he] was transferred to SCI-Fayette whereas a sick call slip was sent to Medical Department for an X-ray due to lack of feeling in [Plaintiff's] hand” and “the prison informed [him] that this was a permanent injury.” Id.

         On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action in which he seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Defendants' “deliberate indifference to the protection and safety of Plaintiff's living conditions which subsequently led to the structure of said facility to cause injury to Plaintiff” as well as to Plaintiff's medical treatment “by terminating Lieutenant Gaff's order to send Plaintiff to an outside hospital ...

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