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Brown v. Farrell

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 29, 2017

DONALD P. BROWN, SR. Plaintiff,
TERENCE FARRELL, et al. Defendants.


          STENGEL, J.


         Donald Brown, Sr., a pro se prisoner, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for injuries he sustained, and medical treatment he received, after he fell out of his bunk bed at Chester County Prison. The defendants filed motions to dismiss plaintiffs amended complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. I will grant in part and deny in part the motions to dismiss.


         Plaintiff was a prisoner at Chester County Prison in 2015. (Am. Compl., Doc. No. 5, at 1). On May 15, 2015, plaintiff fell off the top bunk of his prison bunk bed. (Id.). He suffered a concussion, sprained neck, sprained shoulder, and lost two teeth. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges the upper bunk bed he fell from was "unsecured." (Id.). After he fell, plaintiff was taken by ambulance to Chester County Hospital for medical treatment. (Id.).

         Plaintiff made prior complaints to the prison's warden, defendant Edward McFadden, about the "unsafe conditions" in Chester County Prison. (Id. at 2). Plaintiff alleges these complaints were ignored. (Id.). Plaintiff further alleges McFadden did nothing to fix the conditions he complained about. (Id.).[1] Plaintiff also claims he complained to Captain Morgan Taylor, who also ignored plaintiffs complaints about "a lack of safety measures being taken at Chester County Prison." (Id. at 4).

         Prime Care Medical Inc. is a corporation that contracted with Chester County Prison to provide medical treatment to inmates. Karen Murphy worked for Prime Care at the prison where plaintiff was incarcerated at the time of his fall. Plaintiff claims that, upon returning from Chester County Hospital, he complained to Karen Murphy and Prime Care about continuing pain. (Id. at 3). Specifically, he complained about head pain and a lack of range of motion in his neck and shoulder. (Id.). According to plaintiff, these complaints went unanswered. (Id.). Plaintiff also alleges he asked Ms. Murphy for pain medication but she did not provide any. (Id.).[2]


         Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint against defendants Chester County Prison, Terence Farrell, Edward McFadden, Morgan Taylor, Karen Murphy, and Prime Care Medical Inc. on June 17, 2016. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 1). I dismissed the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), for failure to state a claim.[3] (Doc. No. 2).

         All claims against Chester County Prison were dismissed with prejudice because Chester County Prison is not subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 2). The claims relating to the absence of a safety rail on the top bunk were also dismissed with prejudice because precedent has foreclosed such claims under § 1983. (Id. at 4). In dismissing plaintiffs complaint, I granted him leave to amend to challenge the lack of medical treatment he received after his fall. (Id. at 5).


         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court recognized that "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. Subsequently, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court defined a two-pronged approach to a court's review of a motion to dismiss. "First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678. Thus, while "Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era ... it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 678-79.

         Second, the Supreme Court emphasized that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id., A complaint does not show an entitlement to relief when the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id.; see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232-34 (3d Cir. 2008) (holding that: (1) factual allegations of complaint must provide notice to defendant; (2) complaint must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct; and (3) the complaint's '"factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)).

         The basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review have remained static. Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch. Dist, No. Civ. A.08-626, 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D. Pa. July 15, 2008). The general rules of pleading still require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233. Further, the court must "accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist, 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, ...

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