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Arrington v. Warden C. Maiorana

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 31, 2017

WARDEN C. MAIORANA, et al., Defendants



         Plaintiff Derek Arrington (“Arrington” or “Plaintiff”), at all times relevant an inmate incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan, Waymart, Pennsylvania, commenced this Bivens[1] action on May 10, 2016. (Doc. 1). Arrington names the following defendants: Warden Charles Maiorana (“Maiorana”), Nurse Carey Rhea (“Rhea”), and “URC Medical Staffs.”

         Presently pending is Defendants Maiorana and Rhea's Motion (Doc. 18) to Dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons that follow, the motions will be granted. Also pending is Arrington's Motion (Doc. 28) for Leave to Re-file Amended Complaint, which will be denied based on the dispositions of the motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. Defendant “URC Medical Staff” will be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). Finally, Plaintiff's motion (Doc. 30) for appointment of counsel will be denied.

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         A. Standard of Review

         Defendant Maiorana seeks to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “accept as true all [factual] allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts contained in the complaint, it “may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case.” Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

         Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide “the defendant notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the complaint in the face of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry. See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, “the court must ‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id.; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the well-pleaded factual allegations have been isolated, the court must determine whether they are sufficient to show a “plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, 556U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (requiring plaintiffs to allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level”). A claim “has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         B. Pertinent Allegations of the Complaint

         Arrington alleges that he had surgery in his right knee in 2011, and that upon transfer to USP Canaan, Dr. Mowatt and Defendant Rhea “conducted their medical performance, counseling, evaluation and check-up.” (Doc. 1, p. 7, ¶ 11). He sought medical treatment on January 8, 2016, due to severe pain, swelling, and occasional locking in his right knee. (Id. at ¶ 12). He continued to seek medical treatment over the course of the next several months from Defendant Rhea and “URC Medical staffs.” (Id. at pp. 7-11, ¶¶ 10-23).

         He alleges that Defendant Maiorana as the “warden of USP Canaan is legally responsible for the operation of this Federal Prison and for the welfare of all the inmates.” (Doc. 1, p. 5, ¶ 4). He contends that that “[a]cting with sufficient culpability and deliberate indifference the defendants denied, delayed, and disregarded Plaintiff's serious medical needs and excessive risk to his safety and health…[d]enying and to provide a MRI, Operation, and Procedure as requested by Plaintiff and Carey Rhea, PA-C exacerbated his swelling and locking right knee which he has to bear severe pain and unbearable comfort.” (Id. at p. 6, ¶ 8). He alleges that he experienced a “long delay” in consideration of his grievances and that Defendant Maiorana denied his grievance and required him to wait for a review by the Regional Medical Director. (Id. at p. 8, ¶ 16; p. 10, ¶¶ 20, 23, p. 13, ¶¶ 31, 32).

         C. Discussion

         A Bivens action is “the federal equivalent of the § 1983 cause of action against state actors.” Brown v. Philip Morris Inc., 250 F.3d 789, 800 (3d Cir.2001); see also Tavarez v. Reno, 54 F.3d 109, 110 (2d Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (noting that “federal courts have typically incorporated § 1983 law into Bivens actions” because “the two actions share the same practicalities of litigation.”). Section 1983 offers private citizens a cause of action for violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .

Id.; see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 284-85 (2002); Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996). Accordingly, to establish a claim for relief under Bivens, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) that the conduct was committed by a federal actor, and (2) that conduct resulted in the deprivation of a right secured by the ...

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