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Boston v. Prim Care Medical, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 18, 2018

CRAIG BOSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
PRIME CARE MEDICAL, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          GERALD J. PAPPERT, JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Craig Boston, a pro se inmate, sued Prime Care Medical, Inc., Doctor Victoria Gessner, Supervising Nurses Jessica Thomas and Alynn Zernhelt, and Nurses Pam Whittaker and Jennifer Sariego for negligence and allegedly providing inadequate medical care in violation of his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the United States Constitution.[1] The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss which the Court grants, though Boston will be allowed to amend his Complaint consistent with this Memorandum.

         I

         A

         Boston is an inmate at Bucks County Correctional Facility (“BCCF”). (Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1.) He claims that while incarcerated, he lost his job in the prison and began a self-imposed hunger strike on September 21, 2017. (Id. at 2.) He alleges that medical personnel at BCCF refused to monitor his body mass index or vital signs, despite having been informed that he was not eating. (Id.) Boston claims that he was found unresponsive on his cell floor on September 27 and that medical personnel resuscitated him. (Id. at 2-3.) After regaining consciousness, Boston claims that he was unable to move and had difficulty breathing. (Id.) Emergency medical technicians were called, but Boston alleges that Nurse Thomas withheld information from the technicians. (Id.) Boston does not specify what information Thomas withheld, but alleges she did so to cover up her failings as a supervisor to ensure that inmates receive adequate medical treatment. (Id.)

         On October 9, 2017, Boston claims that he had not eaten for twenty days, despite having received medical attention thirteen days prior. (Id.) After complaining to a corrections officer that he had thrown up bile, was unable to swallow Tylenol and that he had a migraine, Boston was taken to the medical unit at BCCF. (Id.) Once there, he explained to Nurse Whittaker that he could not swallow, but claims that she began questioning him about the Tylenol that had not been prescribed. (Id. at 3-4.) Boston alleges that Whittaker sent him back to his cell despite having a high heart rate and blood pressure, and without examining or addressing his inability to swallow. (Id.)

         The following day, Boston submitted a medical request slip to the BCCF warden complaining about his recent experiences with the prison's medical staff. Boston contends the warden responded on October 11, but claims that Thomas withheld information from the warden and omitted information from his medical records. (Id.) He does not specify what information was withheld or omitted.

         On November 9, Boston was removed from his cell and moved to the restricted housing unit.[2] (Compl. Attach. Claim at 1, ECF No. 3.) After being moved, Boston alleges he began coughing up blood and was escorted to the medical unit. (Id.) Once there, Boston complained of pain in his ribs because the officers that removed him from his cell allegedly kicked and kneed him in his torso. (Id.) After his vital signs were taken, he was sent back to his cell. Later that day, medical personnel were called to Boston's cell because he was again coughing up blood. (Id.) Thomas checked on Boston but determined that he did not need to go to the hospital and could instead see a physician assistant the next day. (Id.) He was not examined by a physician assistant or doctor the following day, but after writing a medical request slip complaint, was scheduled for an appointment the following week. (Id. at 2.)

         On November 15, Boston was taken to the medical unit where a physician assistant took his vital signs and answered his questions. (Id.) Boston alleges the physician assistant told Doctor Gessner about the pain he was experiencing in his ribs, but rather than ordering an X-ray, Gessner responded “There won't be an X-ray, his oxgen [sic] is fine, and even if his ribs are cracked we can't do anything.” (Id.)

         Boston claims the Defendants denied him adequate medical care and that he experienced physical and emotional pain, but does not allege that he suffered any physical injury as a result of the Defendants' purportedly inadequate medical treatment. (Compl. ¶¶ 6, 12; Compl. Attach. Claim at 1-2.)

         B

         Because Boston filed his complaint pro se, the Court “must liberally construe his pleadings.” Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). “Courts are to construe complaints so ‘as to do substantial justice, ' keeping in mind that pro se complaints in particular should be construed liberally.” Bush v. City of Phila., 367 F.Supp. 722, 725 (E.D. Pa. 2005) (quoting Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 234 (3d Cir. 2004)). Moreover, in a § 1983 action, the Court must “apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether a pro se litigant has mentioned it by name.” Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Holley v. Dep't of Veteran Affairs, 165 F.3d 244, 247-48 (3d Cir. 1999)); see also Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (“Since this is a § 1983 action, the [pro se] plaintiffs are entitled to relief if their complaint sufficiently alleges deprivation of any right secured by the Constitution.” (citation omitted)).

         II

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