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Baxter v. Erie County Prison

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 19, 2017

CHARLES W. BAXTER, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIE COUNTY PRISON, Defendant.

          Baxter Magistrate Judge.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Relevant Procedural History

         On January 20, 2017, Plaintiff Charles Baxter, an inmate at the Erie County Prison in Erie, Pennsylvania ("ECP"), brought this pro se civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendant ECP. Plaintiff alleges that on September 3, 2016, he slipped and fell while climbing onto the top bunk that was assigned to him, injuring his left shoulder. Plaintiff alleges further that he reported his injury to medical staff, but has since been threatened by two officers on his cell block, which has prevented him from obtaining medical care. Thus, Plaintiff claims a violation of his rights under the eighth amendment to the United States Constitution.

         On April 12, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss [ECF No. 29], arguing, inter alia, that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Plaintiff has since filed a response to Defendant's motion essentially restating the allegations of his complaint. [ECF No. 33]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.

         B. Standards of Review

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and the complaint's well-pleaded allegations 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conlev v. Gibson. 355 U.S. 41 (1957)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (specifically applying Twombly analysis beyond the context of the Sherman Act).

         A court need not accept inferences drawn by a plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Emps'. Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 146 (3d Cir. 2004) citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Nor must the court accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986); see also McTernan v. City of York, Pa., 577 F.3d 521, 531 (3d Cir. 2009) ("The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."). A plaintiffs factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 citing 5 C. WRIGHT & A. MILLER, FEDERAL Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004). Although the United States Supreme Court ("Supreme Court") does "not require heightened pleading of specifics, [the Court does require] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is "required to make a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Smith v. Sullivan, No. 07-528, 2008 WL 482469, at *1 (D. Del. Feb. 19, 2008) quoting Phillips v. Ctv. of Allegheny. 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). "This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3.

         The Third Circuit has expounded on the Twombly/Iqbal line of cases. To determine the sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal, the court must follow three steps:

First, the court must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.' Second the court should identify allegations that, 'because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.' Finally, 'where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.'

Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 221 (3d Cir. 2011) quoting Santiago v. Warminster Twp,629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d ...


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