United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jackson is a prisoner with chronic intestinal illnesses. For
five months in 2015, he was temporarily transferred from
federal prison to city custody in Philadelphia. He alleges
that the city prison doctors failed to address his dire
medical problems because of two customs or policies: (1)
requiring new inmates to discard their old medications and
await new medications upon arrival at the prison, and (2)
delaying treatment when an inmate is about to be transferred
out of the prison. Mr. Jackson says that these practices
caused him to suffer severe symptoms, lose 60 pounds, and
undergo two invasive surgeries.
Jackson brought this civil rights claim against the prison
medical provider and staff members, and the defendants have
moved to dismiss the case. For the reasons that follow, the
Court grants the motion as to the first alleged custom or
policy but denies the motion as to the second custom or
Jackson suffers from several chronic intestinal illnesses,
including Crohn's disease. Compl. ¶ 8. To try to
keep his conditions in check, he takes over ten medications
per day. He also undergoes monthly chemotherapy because of
his increased risk of colon cancer. See Id.
2014, Mr. Jackson was arrested and detained in federal
prison. Id. ¶ 10. For the next year, he was
transferred between federal prison and Philadelphia city
prison several times. During this period, he received all the
medical care he needed. See Id. ¶¶ 13-18.
recent problems began in June 2015, when he was transferred
from federal to city prison “as a detainment until the
conclusion of an unrelated criminal trial.”
Id. ¶ 19. Medical care in the city prison was
provided by Corizon Health Inc., one of the defendants in
this case.See Id. ¶ 6. Corizon had a
“policy of refusing to allow him to use his previously
prescribed medications, ” instead insisting that he
“order new medications.” Id. ¶ 21.
His new medications did not arrive for a week. This lapse in
treatment caused Mr. Jackson to suffer incontinence,
constipation, and stomach pain. See Id. ¶¶
22-24. Corizon's insistence that prisoners order new
medications is the first of two policies or customs that Mr.
Jackson alleges operated to deny him medical care in this
after Mr. Jackson received his new medication, his health
continued to deteriorate. From June to August, he complained
to Corizon staff of “rectal bleeding, nausea, vomiting
and constipation.” Id. ¶ 26. He was
examined by several Corizon doctors, including defendants
Vivian Gandy and Almeda Frias, the prison's medical
director. See id.¶¶ 6-7, 29.
Corizon staff failed to address Mr. Jackson's worsening
condition. Instead, for nearly three months, Corizon doctors
repeatedly asked Mr. Jackson “about his release date
back to federal custody.” Id. ¶ 30. They
told him that “since he was going to return to federal
custody shortly, ” he could wait to “get his care
from the Federal government.” Id. ¶ 29;
see also Id. ¶ 32 (“Despite presenting
with clear evidence of medical attention, [staff] continued
to ask about [Mr. Jackson's] return date to federal
custody and mentioned him receiving his medical care when he
went to the federal government.”). From these
statements, Mr. Jackson surmises a second unlawful policy or
custom by Corizon: foregoing costly treatment for prisoners
who Corizon expects to soon leave the prison.
Mr. Jackson's condition became so dire that he was
hospitalized at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center for three
days in late August 2015. See Id. ¶¶
34-38. He was discharged with instructions to undergo an MRI
to assess his need for intestinal surgery. Id.
never worked to obtain the MRI. Instead, prison doctors once
again asked Mr. Jackson “when he was scheduled to
return to federal custody so the federal government would pay
for the additional medical services.” Id.
¶ 41. As a result, throughout September, Mr. Jackson
continued to suffer “abdominal pain, severe rectal
bleeding, vomiting, [and] mucus in his stool.”
Id. ¶ 42. All told, he lost roughly 60 pounds
during his ordeal from June to September. See Id.
¶¶ 35, 42.
October 2015, Mr. Jackson underwent two surgeries to remove
parts of his large and small intestines and his appendix.
Id. ¶¶ 43-44. Even after he returned to
the prison, Corizon staff kept asking about “the
timeline of [Mr. Jackson] returning to federal custody”
and suggested that he wait “to seek additional medical
care once under federal custody.” Id. ¶
47. In November, Mr. Jackson was transferred to federal
Jackson brought this case pro se against Corizon and
several members of its staff. The case was placed on the
Prisoner Civil Rights Panel and eventually taken on by an
attorney. The latest iteration of the complaint - Mr.
Jackson's first complaint with counsel - brings one
Eighth Amendment claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Corizon, Dr. Gandy, and Dr. Frias. Corizon and Dr. Frias have
moved to dismiss.
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a
complaint. To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
plead “factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Specifically, “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The question is not
whether the claimant “will ultimately prevail . . . but
whether his complaint [is] sufficient to cross the federal
court's threshold.” Skinner v. Switzer,
562 U.S. 521, 530 (2011) (citation and internal quotation
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court adheres
to certain well-recognized parameters. For one, the Court
“must consider only those facts alleged in the
complaint and accept all of the allegations as true.”
ALA, Inc. v. CCAIR, Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir.
1994). Also, the Court must accept as true all reasonable
inferences emanating from the allegations, and view those
facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See Revell v. Port Auth., 598 F.3d
128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010).
admonition does not demand that the Court ignore or even
discount reality. “[T]he tenet that a court must accept
as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. If a claim “is vulnerable to 12(b)(6)
dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment,