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Eddowes v. Director State Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 16, 2018




          Richard Caputo United States District Judge.

         Presently before me are three (3) Reports and Recommendations (Docs. 27, 29, 31) issued by Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson. Specifically, Magistrate Judge Carlson recommends that four (4) motions to dismiss be granted in this pro se prisoner civil rights action commenced by Shane Eddowes (“Eddowes” or “Plaintiff”). For the reasons that follow, the Reports and Recommendations will be adopted in part and the motions to dismiss will be granted, but Eddowes will be given the opportunity to amend his Complaint.

         I. Background

         The facts alleged in the Complaint are set forth in detail in the Magistrate Judge's Reports and Recommendations and are not repeated at length herein. For present purposes, it is sufficient to restate that the thrust of the Complaint is that while Eddowes was incarcerated at SCI-Rockview, various individuals, including, inter alia, prison officials[1] and employees of Diamond Pharmacy Services, a private pharmacy company[2], “substituted adulterated, experimental, placebo drugs for [his] prescribed anti-seizure medications.” (Doc. 27, 1; see also Doc. 30, 1). Eddowes alleges that he has been prescribed klonopin for his seizure disorder. (See Doc. 27, 2). Eddowes contends, however, that the medication is being substituted or is otherwise being replaced with a placebo, which resulted in him suffering two seizures. (See id. at 2-3; see also Doc. 1-1, ¶¶ 34, 40, 48, 58-59, 65-66). As written, the Complaint suggests that if he is being provided a placebo, it is either the pharmacy or the manufacturer of the drug sending the altered medication to SCI-Rockview. (See id. at ¶¶ 40, 48, 59, (“Either the pill is being manufactured deficient without the active ingredient clonazepam or is being tampered with or intercepted by substitution of some generic type.”), 67).

         Based on the foregoing, Eddowes complains that his Eighth Amendment rights have been violated by Defendants' deliberate indifference to his medical needs. (See Doc. 1-1, generally). Additionally, Eddowes asserts that Defendants retaliated against him for filing grievances in violation of the First Amendment. (See id.).

         Four (4) motions to dismiss the Complaint have been filed. (See Docs. 6, 15, 22, 26). Eddowes filed a brief in opposition to the motions to dismiss submitted by Department of Corrections Defendants, (see Docs. 6, 21), and Pharmacy Defendants. (See Docs. 15, 21). Eddowes, though, did not file a brief in opposition the motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Fisher and Kakabar, (see Doc. 22), or Finn, (see Doc. 26), despite being directed by the Magistrate Judge to do so. (See Doc. 28). The Magistrate Judge has now issued three (3) Reports and Recommendations on the pending motions to dismiss. (See Docs. 27, 29, 31). Plaintiff sumitted timely objections to the first two (2) Reports and Recommendations. (See Doc. 30). The Reports and Recommendations, the objections thereto, and the motions to dismiss are now ripe for review.

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standards.

         1. Review of a Report and Recommendation.

         When objections to the magistrate judge's Report are filed, the court must conduct a de novo review of the contested portions of the Report. Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)). However, this only applies to the extent that a party's objections are both timely and specific; if objections are merely “general in nature, ” the court “need not conduct a de novo determination.” Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). Indeed, the Third Circuit has instructed that “providing a complete de novo determination where only a general objection to the report is offered would undermine the efficiency the magistrate system was meant to contribute to the judicial process.” Id. at 7. In conducting a de novo review, the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v. Beard, 829 F.Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Uncontested portions of the Report may be reviewed at a standard determined by the district court. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7. At the very least, the court should review uncontested portions for clear error or manifest injustice. See, e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F.Supp. 375, 376-77 (M.D. Pa. 1998).

         2. Motion to Dismiss.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “Under the ‘notice pleading' standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         When resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a court must consider no more than whether the complaint establishes ‘enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements' of the cause of action.” Trzaska v. L'Oreal USA, Inc., 865 F.3d 155, 162 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 789 (3d Cir. 2016)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must take three steps: (1) identify the elements of the claim; (2) identify conclusions that are not entitled to the assumption of truth; and (3) assume the veracity of the well-pleaded factual allegations and determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. See Connelly, 809 F.3d at 787 (citations omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ...

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