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Porter v. Crozer Chester Medical Center, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 2, 2017

GWENDOLYN PORTER, Administratrix of the Estate of Jamere Porter, deceased Plaintiff,
v.
CROZER CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, INC.; MOHAMMED H. BUDEIR; TIMOTHY J. HARRISON; MARCIN A. JANKOWSKI; UNKNOWN PHYSICIANS OF CROZER CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, INC.; COUNTY OF DELAWARE, PENNSYLVANIA; COMMUNICATION EDUCATION CENTER, INC.; JAMES E. HYMAN; FRANK GREEN; STEVE C. TOMLIN; MELISSA WEGLARZ; RONALD B. PHILLIPS; MARGARET GRIFFITH; DOROTHY MURRY; SUSAN KENDRA; CATHERINE HALSTEAD; LYNN MILANO; SARAH SPERBER; and UNKNOWN CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS -EMPLOYEES OF COMMUNITY EDUCATIONAL CENTER, INC. AND DELAWARE COUNTY, PA Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          JONES, II J.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Gwendolyn Porter-Decedent Jamere Porter's mother and the administratrix of his estate-has sued:

• the County of Delaware, Pennsylvania (“Delaware County”);
• the Communication Education Center, Inc. (“CEC”);
• James E. Hyman (“Hyman”), Frank Green (“Green”), Steve C. Tomlin (“Tomlin), and Melissa Weglarz (“Weglarz”) (collectively, the “CEC officials”);
• Ronald B. Phillips (“Phillips”), Margaret Griffith (“Griffith”), Chuck Stork (“Stork”), Dorothy Murry (“Murry”), Susan Kendra (“Kendra”), Catherine Halstead (“Halstead”), Lynn Milano (“Milano”), and Sarah Sperber (“Sperber”) (collectively, the “CEC medical personnel”); and
• unknown correctional officers and employees of CEC and Delaware County; in relation to the death of her son, Jamere Porter (“Porter”), on May 11, 2014.[1] Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging denial of medical care in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as state law claims of negligence and carelessness.
Presently before the Court are three separate motions to dismiss.

         1) Defendants Delaware County, CEC, the CEC officials, Griffith, Murry, Kendra, and Milano moved to dismiss:

• Counts IV and VI against Hyman, Green, Tomlin, and Weglarz for failure to state a claim;
• Count VII against Griffith, Murry, Kendra, and Milano for failure to state a claim;
• Count III against Delaware County for failure to state a claim; and
• Count XI against Delaware County and CEC for failure to state a claim.

(Dkt No. 32, Defs. Delaware County, CEC Inc., Hyman, Tomlin, Weglarz, Griffith, Murry, Kendra, Milano, and Green Mot. to Dismiss [hereinafter Delaware County MTD] at 5).

         2) Defendant Phillips moved to dismiss:

• Count VII against Phillips as being barred by the applicable two-year statute of limitations or, in the alternative, for failure to state a claim; and
• Count VIII against Phillips as being barred by the applicable two-year statute of limitations.

(Dkt No. 33, Def. Phillips Mot. to Dismiss [hereinafter Phillips MTD] at 6). 3) Defendants Halstead and Sperber moved to dismiss:

• Count VII against Sperber and Halstead for failure to state a claim; and
• Count VIII against Sperber for failure to state a claim.

(Dkt No. 40, Defs. Halstead and Sperber's Mot. to Dismiss [hereinafter H & S MTD] at 5.)

         Plaintiff concedes that the claims in Counts VII and VIII against Sperber should be dismissed. Plaintiff contests the other motions to dismiss. Viewing the Complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court holds that (1) the Delaware County MTD (Dkt. No. 32) is GRANTED IN PART; (2) the Phillips MTD (Dkt. No. 33) is GRANTED IN PART; and (3) the H & S MTD (Dkt No. 40) is GRANTED.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background[2]

         On April 24, 2014, Porter was shot seven times while driving in Chester, Pennsylvania. Compl. ¶ 27. He was transported to Crozer-Chester Medical Center and treated for his severe, life-threatening injuries. Id. at ¶¶ 27-28. While hospitalized, Porter was placed in police custody, charged with criminal conduct, and arraigned bedside. Id. at ¶ 29. He also had many surgeries and was given anticoagulants to help prevent his blood clots. Id. at ¶¶ 30-32. On May 6, Porter's doctors decided he could be discharged to the George W. Hill Correctional Facility (the “Correctional Facility”). Id. at ¶¶ 7, 33. CEC operates the Correctional Facility pursuant to a contract with Delaware County. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. Porter was discharged from the hospital with pain medication but without anticoagulant medication. Id. at ¶ 34.

         Porter arrived at the Correctional Facility around 5:00 p.m. on May 7, 2014. Id. at ¶ 35. Porter had difficulty breathing when he arrived and over the next four days. Id. at ¶ 50. Griffith, a nurse practitioner and one of CEC's employees, evaluated Porter when he arrived and knew of Porter's medical history and risks from his injuries, but she did not mention or observe that he was having difficulty breathing. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 35. Porter was then seen at 6:28 p.m. by Kendra, a nurse and CEC employee, and again at 9:15 p.m. by Halstead, another nurse and CEC employee. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17, 36. Kendra and Halstead both concluded his condition was normal and neither mentioned Porter's breathing difficulties. Id. at ¶ 35. On May 8 at 11:30 a.m., Phillips, a doctor and CEC employee, evaluated Porter by examining his wounds, removing sutures, and ordering wound care. Id. at ¶¶ 13, 37. Phillips did not perform a physical examination or take Porter's vital signs, and he did not observe Porter's difficulty breathing. Id. at ¶ 37. Porter's family visited him in jail that same day and noticed that he was complaining of having trouble breathing and observed his breathing difficulties. Id. at ¶ 39. Porter was seen for wound care by unknown medical providers at 6:01 p.m. on May 8 and 6:17 p.m. on May 9. Id. at ¶ 38. These unknown medical providers did not take Porter's vital signs or conduct a physical examination, and there was no mention of Porter's breathing difficulties. Id. Murray, a nurse and CEC employee, evaluated Porter's mental health status on May 8 at 4:40 p.m. and later on May 9 at 6:18 p.m., but she did not note Porter's breathing difficulties. Id. at ¶¶ 20, 40-41. Stork, a nurse and CEC employee, conducted a mental health assessment of Porter on May 10 at 4:56 p.m. but did not conduct a physical examination or note Porter's difficulty breathing either day. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 43. That same day, Porter complained to an unknown correctional officer or medical provider that he was having pain in his mid-back area. Id. at ¶ 44. The individual told him it was “likely just a bullet trying to work its way out.” Id. Porter was not provided with a physical examination after that conversation. Id.

         On May 11, Stock conducted another mental health assessment. Id. at ¶ 46. At 10:30 p.m., Milano, a nurse and CEC employee, responded to a call from an unknown correctional officer and went to Porter's cell because of his difficulty breathing. Id. at ¶ 47. Milano started emergency resuscitation and called for paramedics. Id. Sperber, a nurse practitioner and CEC employee, went to Porter's cell at 10:32 p.m. to help Milano try to resuscitate Porter. Id. at ¶¶ 21, 48. When emergency medical services personnel arrived, they removed Porter from his cell and took him to Riddle Hospital, where Porter was pronounced dead. Id. at ¶ 49.

         Porter had difficulty breathing starting from his arrival at the Correctional Facility until his eventual collapse, but CEC medical personnel did not evaluate or report his ongoing difficulty breathing. Id. at ¶ 51. The unknown correctional officers at the facility also ignored Porter's breathing difficulties. Id. During Porter's time at the Correctional Facility, the CEC officials, [3] CEC, and Delaware County were responsible for creating policies and procedures for accepting individuals transferred from a hospital to the Correctional Facility's medical unit. Id. at ¶¶ 9-12, 57. Delaware County, CEC, and the CEC officials were also responsible for training, educating, supervising, and disciplining correctional officers and medical personnel at the Correctional Facility with respect to recognizing and treating life-threatening conditions. Id. at ¶ 47. Phillips was responsible for creating policies and procedures regarding the medical care and treatment of inmates. Id. at ¶¶ 14, 53-55.

         Porter died on May 11, 2014 as a result of pulmonary embolisms--sudden blockages of major blood vessels in the lungs, usually caused by blood clots--that caused his breathing difficulties and eventual collapse. Id. at ¶ 139. The Amended Complaint alleges that the CEC medical personnel were deliberately indifferent to Porter's medical needs because they failed to:

• Recognize that the Correctional Facility was incapable of providing the level of medical care Porter required upon ...

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