United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Austin McHugh United States District Judge
Eighth Amendment case, Jermaine Williams, a Pennsylvania
state prisoner at SCI Graterford and an epileptic, claims
Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc., and Correct Care
Solutions, LLC, the medical providers at Graterford,
repeatedly denied him necessary anti-seizure medication.
Because Williams did not exhaust administrative remedies on
that claim, however, I dismissed it on an earlier motion and
it is no longer directly at issue here. On the same motion, I
also dismissed other claims involving Correct
Care's failure to provide Williams physical
therapy or surgery to address injuries he suffered at
Graterford. Since those claims had been exhausted and were
just insufficiently pled, I gave Williams leave to amend.
Williams did, and Correct Care now moves to dismiss again.
This time, I will deny Correct Care's motion.
earlier opinion has a more detailed background. See
2016 WL 7156395, at *1-2. To briefly recap, the earliest
events in this case stem from the most troubling allegation:
that when Williams, a known epileptic, was first sent to
Graterford, Defendants denied him his prescribed anti-seizure
medication. That unjustified denial caused Williams to suffer
needless seizures, one of which caused Williams to fall down
the stairs, aggravating preexisting (and creating new) back
and neck injuries. To top it off, Williams claims, the
physical therapy Defendants gave him after that fall was
because Williams failed to navigate the complex and
unforgiving world of administrative exhaustion, none of that
remains directly at issue now. See Williams Br.
*8.Instead, both of Williams's surviving
claims flow from a January 2015 vehicle accident that
occurred while being taken from another prison back to
Graterford. In a grievance filed that day, Williams claimed
he was violently thrown inside the vehicle, causing whiplash
and a concussion-and injuring his back and neck even more.
Correct Care examined him then, but in the first instance
gave him only a neckbrace and painkillers. In his grievance,
Williams wrote: “I don't believe I am receiving
proper medical care, and my injuries are being minimized in a
way that amounts to medical neglect.” Dkt. 23-6 at
the next five months, it appears (the record at this stage is
admittedly hazy) that Williams received some physical
therapy-but not much. On February 12, three weeks after the
accident, he had an on-site consultation. The treating
physician, after noting in her records that Williams had pain
and a decreased range of motion in his neck, wrote that he
“needs to begin rehab, ” and so referred him to
physical therapy. Dkt. 23-4 at *6. Sometime in late February
Williams indeed saw a physical therapist, and the two agreed
to a regimen of weekly sessions. But that only lasted a few
weeks: soon after, Williams claims, his therapist
“accused [him] of being litigious” and made him a
“target of ha[r]assment.” Dkt. 23-7 at *4. The
early April, Williams had another consultation, where he
reiterated his complaint of neck pain and a
“very” limited range of motion. Dkt. 23-4 at *7.
He was referred for an MRI of his cervical spine, which took
place at the end of April. Id. Shortly after the
MRI, he had a third consultation, and this time was referred
to an offsite neurosurgeon. The referring doctor noted that
Williams had a “known seizure disorder, ” had
been injured both falling down the stairs and in the
accident, and, by this point, had “lumbar back pain
radiating into his left leg and difficulty walking.”
Dkt. 23-4 at *8.
a month and a half later, on June 17, Williams finally saw
the neurosurgeon. Dkt. 23-5 at *2. The neurosurgeon discussed
the MRI with Williams and told him he did not recommend
surgery for his lumbar spine. Id. “However,
” he noted, “due to [Williams's] failure with
physical therapy, ” as well as the notable degree of
neck pain and related weaknesses, he recommended surgery for
his cervical spine. Id. This surgery, as with
others, presented risks of bleeding and to the nervous
system; it would also involve “plates and
screws.” Id. Ultimately, Williams rejected the
surgery, noting in a subsequent grievance that it was
“extremely intrusive” and provided only a
“50/50 chance of effective recovery.” Dkt. 18-5
at *11. Instead, Williams proposed a less intrusive
alternative surgery; Correct Care rejected his suggestion.
now claims Correct Care violated the Eighth Amendment by
failing to provide him with adequate physical therapy and by
denying him timely and adequate surgery. These violations, he
claims, flowed from Correct Care's policy or custom of
generally disregarding prisoners' needs for physical
therapy and surgery, whether because of considerations of
cost or some other nonmedical reason. Correct Care now moves
to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
Standard of Review
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, my task is merely to decide whether the
plaintiff has stated a “plausible” claim for
relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
In doing this, I must “draw on [my] judicial experience
and common sense, ” id., and “construe
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210
(3d Cir. 2009). It does not matter whether the complaint is
“as rich with detail as some prefer”-the only
question is whether, “under any reasonable
reading” of it, there are “sufficient facts to
support [a] plausible claim.” Id. at 210-12.
that standard of review, I conclude that Correct Care's
motion will be denied.