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Woodward v. Bradford Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 23, 2018





         A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

         Plaintiff D'Metruis Woodward, initiated this pro se action on February 24, 2017, by submitting for filing a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis accompanied by a complaint, in the District Court of New Jersey.

         Judge Noel L. Hillman ordered that the case be transferred to the Western District of Pennsylvania. ECF No. 2. The case was then transferred to this district and assigned to the Erie Division on February 28, 2017.

         As Defendants to this action, Plaintiff names Bradford Regional Medical Center, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Correctional Officer Frantz, Emergency Medical Technician Robert Mosher and Dr. Brian Walters. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs, and delayed necessary treatment during his incarceration at the Federal Correctional Institution, McKean (“FCI - McKean”). As relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that the acts and omissions of Defendants constitute a violation of his constitutional rights, as well as monetary damages.

         Defendant Dr. Walters has filed a motion to dismiss [ECF No. 26]; Defendant Bradford Regional Medical Center has filed a motion to dismiss [ECF No. 29]; Defendants Frantz and Mosher, both employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 31]. Later, Bradford Regional Medical Center and Dr. Walters filed motions for summary judgment arguing that Plaintiff failed to file a Certificate of Merit pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042.3 as to his potential professional liability claims[2]. ECF No. 40; ECF No. 47.

         Following the filing of the motions to dismiss, this Court ordered Plaintiff to respond to Defendants' motions, and advised Plaintiff of the possibility that this Court may consider Defendants' alternative request for entry of summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Renchenski v. Williams, 622 F.3d 315, 340 (3d Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiff filed an opposition brief addressing some of the pending dispositive motions. ECF No. 35. Accordingly, these motions are ripe for disposition by this Court.

         B. Standards of Review

         1. Pro se Pleadings

         Pro se pleadings, “however inartfully pleaded, ” must be held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). If the court can reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, poor syntax and sentence construction, or litigant's unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex rel. Montgomery v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969) (petition prepared by a prisoner may be inartfully drawn and should be read “with measure of tolerance”). Under our liberal pleading rules, a district court should construe all allegations in a complaint in favor of the complainant. Gibbs v. Roman, 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Abdul-Akbar v. McKelvie, 239 F.3d 307, 311 (3d Cir. 2001); see e.g., Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (discussing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard); Markowitz v. Ne. Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990) (same). Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, this Court may consider facts and make inferences when appropriate.

         2. 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 Conley 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 plaintiff's 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 ยง 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004). Although the ...

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