United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
William J. Nealon United States District Judge
August 9, 2016, Plaintiff, Maurice Harper, an inmate confined
in the State Correctional Institution, Frackville,
("SCI-Frackville"), Pennsylvania, filed the above
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
named Defendants are the Dr. Haresh Pandya; Nelson
("Tony") Iannuzzi, CRNP; Superintendent Tritt;
Deputy Superintendent Meintel; Stanishefski, CHCA; Food
Service Manager Johnson; Karen Holly, CHCA; and Chad Yordy.
August 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file
an amended complaint. (Doc. 7). By Order dated September 22,
2016, Plaintiffs motion to amend was granted, and Plaintiff
was directed to file an amended complaint, which was to
"be a new pleading which stands by itself as an adequate
complaint without reference to the complaint already
filed." (See Doc. 8, Order).
September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint
(Doc. 10), and an affidavit of fact in support of his
complaint (Doc. 11) which were served on the Defendants by
Order dated October 4, 2016. (Doc. 12).
before the court and ripe for disposition are Defendants'
motions to dismiss the Plaintiffs amended complaint. (Docs.
27, 30). The parties have fully briefed the issues and the
motions are now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that
follow, Defendants' motions to dismiss will be granted.
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for
"failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted." Under Rule 12(b)(6), we must "accept all
factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether,
under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff
may be entitled to relief." Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside. 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.2009) (quoting
Phillips v. County of Allegheny. 515 F.3d 224, 231
(3d Cir.2008)). While a complaint need only contain "a
short and plain statement of the claim, " Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), and detailed factual allegations are not required,
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007), a complaint must plead "enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Id. at 570. "The plausibility standard is not
akin to a 'probability requirement, ' but it asks for
more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662
(2009) (quoting Twombly. 550 U.S. at 556).
"[L]abels and conclusions" are not enough,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and a court "'is
not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.'" Id. (quoted case
omitted). Thus, "a judicial conspiracy claim must
include at least a discernible factual basis to survive a
Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal." Capogrosso v. The Supreme
Court of New Jersey. 588 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir.2009)
resolving the motion to dismiss, we thus "conduct a
two-part analysis." Fowler, supra. 578
F.3d at 210. First, we separate the factual elements from the
legal elements and disregard the legal conclusions.
Id. at 210-11. Second, we "determine whether
the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show
that the plaintiff has a " 'plausible claim for
relief.' " Id. at 211 (quoted case
addition, because Plaintiff complains about "prison
conditions, " the screening provisions of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e apply, as do the screening provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e), given that he was granted in forma
pauperis status to pursue this suit. The court's
obligation to dismiss a complaint under the PLRA screening
provisions for complaints that fail to state a claim is not
excused even after defendants have filed a motion to dismiss.
See, e.g.. Lopez v. Smith. 203 F.3d 1122,
1126 n. 6 (9th Cir.2000). Hence, if there is a ground for
dismissal which was not relied upon by a defendant in a
motion to dismiss, the court may nonetheless sua sponte rest
its dismissal upon such ground pursuant to the screening
provisions of the PLRA. See Lopez: Dare v.
U.S.. Civil No. 06-115E, 2007 WL1811198, at*4 (W.D.Pa.
June 21, 2007), aff d, 264 Fed.Appx. 183 (3d Cir.2008).
Allegations in Complaint
states that he "used the prisoner procedure available at
SCI-Frackville requesting pain relief medication for extreme
back pains which hindered Plaintiffs ability to carry out
normal activities." (Doc. 10, amended complaint).
April 11, 2016, Plaintiff states that his "request for
pain relief medication and back brace was denied."
Id. Specifically, on April 11, 2016, Defendant,
Karen Holly, CHCA, denied Plaintiffs Grievance No. 617928 as
Mr. Harper, I reviewed your grievance # 617928 and your
medical record. You saw Dr. Pandya on 3-17-3016, not on
3-18-2016. In your grievance you state, "I have
complained about chronic back pain for months to the Medical
Department and every time was denied treatment until my
condition worsened and I request help again..." I
researched back to your initial intake on 4/8/2016 and there
is no documentation supporting any related complaints. The
3/17/2016 sick call visit is the first.
You complained of a painful lump located on your lower back.
After an assessment/examination Dr. Pandya informed you of a
subcutaneous fascia/fat herniation near the mid line of your
back, or an abnormal protrusion of the connective tissue. Dr.
Pandya provided you with verbal and paper education material
of exercises that can help with the discomfort. There is no
documentation supporting a discussion of a back brace or
injections. There is no medical intervention required at this
You cannot compare your fatty hernia located on your back to
other patients with hernias located in different areas of the
body. Nor can you compare treatments.
This grievance is denied based on the above information
above. You were provided medical care and there is no
evidence of chronic back pain.
(Doc. 11 at 4, Initial Review Response). On April 17, 2016,
Plaintiff filed an appeal to the Facility Manager
"requesting help with his pain and suffering and on May
1, 2016 Plaintiffs request for pain relief medication and
back brace were denied." (Doc. 10, amended complaint).
18, 2016, Plaintiff "was transported to the medical
department on a wheelchair due to extreme back pains with
muscle spasms that caused Plaintiff to be paralyze on his
cell floor suffering from extreme pain leaving him unable to
move." Id. Plaintiff states that he was
"told by medical staff while he was paralyze on the
floor that he would not receive treatment for his chronic
back pains if he did not fill out a sick call request slip
authorizing the medical department to charge him for
treatment for his chronic back pains." Id.
Plaintiff complains that "the Defendant unrelenting
medical co-payments for Plaintiff sick call services for his
chronic medical conditions and Plaintiff being fired from his
prison job has resulted in a pay decrease and placed
Plaintiff is financial destitute." Id.
27, 2016, Plaintiff filed Grievance No. 622710, complaining
about being removed from his job. (Doc. 36-1 at 37). By
response dated June 21, 2016, Plaintiffs grievance was denied
Inmate Harper you indicate in your grievance that FSS Pocono
fired you due to the Medical Restrictions. You indicate that
you have lost your pay grade and your light duty job
Per DC-ADM 816: "Removal of an inmate from a work
assignment for reasons other than misconduct or medical
necessity must be handled by a Unit ...