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Mancebo v. Steinhart

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 16, 2018

JOHN STEINHART, et al., Defendants



         I. Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate confined in the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution (“SCI-Mahanoy”), Frackville, Pennsylvania, originally filed the above captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, in the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are Correct Care Solutions; John Steinhart, Correctional Health Care Administrator; Christopher Oppman, Director of Health Care Service; Theresa DelBalso, SCI-Mahanoy Superintendent; and John Wetzel, Department of Corrections Secretary. Id. Plaintiff claims that Defendants provided inadequate medical treatment with respect to Plaintiff's medical condition.

         Currently pending before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. (Docs. 7, 9). The motion are fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motions.

         II. Allegations in Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that “on July 13, 2017, and numerous times before, [he] went to medical for inflammation on [his] eye and [he] was told it was a stye on [his] eye. (Doc. 1). He was “given antibiotics and drops and was told to use a hot rag and it would go away.” Id. Plaintiff states that “for over a month [his] eye was/is in pain and swollen.” Id. He was “last given some different medication but nothing has changed, my eye is still inflamed and painful.” Id. Plaintiff claims that he was “informed over a month ago that [he] would be sent out to have surgery and until this day nothing has happened.” Id.

         On July 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed Grievance No. 687530, “in an attempt to resolve the failure to properly treat the stye.” Id. By Initial review response dated August 1, 2017, Grievance No. 687530 was denied. Id. A timely appeal to the Facility Manager was taken on August 8, 2017 and the denial was affirmed on August 18, 2017. Id. An August 24, 2017 appeal to Final Review was referred to the Bureau of Health Care Services on August 31, 2017 and was denied on September 27, 2017. Id.

         Plaintiff files the instant action, claiming that “there is no medical justification for the Defendants' failure to properly treat Plaintiff's stye by opening and draining it” and that “their actions and inactions have caused and continue to cause Plaintiff pain, suffering and emotional distress.” Id. Specifically, Plaintiff states that Defendants, Steinhart and Oppman disregarded their duties “by negligently and carelessly allowing Plaintiff's rights under Pennsylvania law to be violated by medical personnel at SCI-Mahanoy's negligent conduct in regard to the treatment of Plaintiff's stye.” Id. He claims that “Defendant, Correct Care Solutions, as Medical Care Provider is the policy maker at SCI-Mahanoy regarding medical treatment”, and “it was policy, practice and/or custom for Correct Care Solutions to fail to adequately treat and/or to dump inmates who require extensive and/or expensive medical care.” Id. Plaintiff believes that “the above described policies, practices and customs demonstrated a deliberate indifference on the part of Defendant[s], DelBalso and Wetzel, to the constitutional rights of person within Mahanoy, and were the cause of the violations of Plaintiff's rights as alleged herein.” Id. For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id.

         III. Motion to Dismiss

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 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).

         In 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 omitted).

         In 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. Id.

         IV. Discussion

         A. Eighth ...

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