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Zeigler v. Correct Care Systems

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018

CORRECT CARE SYSTEMS, et at, Defendants


          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Quilie Zeigler ("Zeigler"), an inmate currently confined at the Smithfield State Correctional Institution in Huntindgon, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Smithfield"), commenced this civil rights action on August 26, 2016, in the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County. (Doc. 1-2). The action was subsequently removed to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via an amended complaint. (Doc. 9). Named as defendants are Correct Care Solutions, LLC and James F. Frommer, Jr., D.O. (Id.) Before the court is defendants' partial motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 11). For the reasons set forth below, the partial motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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 Shadvside, 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, 556 U.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.

         II. Allegations of the Amended Complaint

         Zeigler alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and negligent by failing to monitor his heart after his arrival at SCI-Smithfield. (Doc. 9, ¶¶ 7-25). Specifically, Zeigler alleges that he arrived at SCI-Smithfield with a preexisting heart condition. (Id. at ¶ 13). Zeigler allegedly informed Dr. Frommer about his preexisting heart condition and stated that his heart should be monitored. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14).

         In December 2015, Zeigler alleges that he requested monitoring of his heart, or use of a heart monitor. (Id. at ¶ 15). Dr. Frommer allegedly informed Zeigler that monitoring of his heart was not necessary. (Id.) Zeigler avers that Dr. Frommer never ordered monitoring of his heart. (Id. at ¶ 17). Medical personnel purportedly advised Zeigler that he had to obtain certain cardiology records related to his defibrillator prior to any heart monitoring. (Id. at ¶ 16).

         On February 24, 2016, Zeigler presented to the medical department with complaints of chest pain and difficulty breathing. (Id. at ¶ 18). Zeigler was transported to an outside hospital and underwent a procedure to replace his cardiac stents. (Id. at ¶ 19).

         Zeigler alleges that Correct Care and Dr. Frommer breached their contractual agreement by failing to monitor his heart and failing to refer him to a specialist for treatment. (Id. at ¶ 20). Zeigler further alleges that Correct Care breached its contractual obligations to monitor his heart and obtain his medical records. (Id. at ¶ 21). He alleges that Correct Care and its employees still refuse to monitor his heart condition. (Id. at ¶ 23).

         III. Discussion

         Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code 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 ...

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