United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John Boyd Morrow, an inmate confined in the State
Correctional Camp Hill, (“SCI-Camp Hill”),
Pennsylvania, filed the above captioned civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. 1). Morrow
complains of an incident which occurred at his former place
of confinement, the Franklin County Prison. Id.
Specifically, Plaintiff claims that sometime in April, 2017,
he suffered food poisoning from food he ate, which was
prepared for the Franklin County Prison by Trinity Group
Services. Id. As a result, Plaintiff claims that,
over the course of three days, he suffered blood in his bowel
movements, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, cold chills,
sweats, pain in his lower back, kidneys and stomach.
Id. Plaintiff states that he “left Miss Helser
of [the] nursing staff awear (sic) of this and “was
given a ‘Tums' for food poisoning.”
Id. Plaintiff alleges that On April 27, 2017, he
submitted a sick call request to be seen by the medical
department for his symptoms, but received no response or
treatment. Id. Also, on April 27, 2017, Plaintiff
filed Inmate Grievance Number 17-00363, complaining about
becoming sick from contaminated food. Id. In a
response dated June 23, 2017, it was noted that
“medical records indicate that you did not report any
of these symptoms to medical department.” Id
Thus, on August 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant action,
in which he is “seeking funds or money in the amount of
$20.00 or the full amount allotted by law, which is cheap for
laying around sick, throwing up from both ends and bleeding
out of the bottom.” Id. The named Defendants
are Trinity Services Group, Inc.; Karen, Wanda, Sue and Deb
Jones, Trinity Food Services Group employees; and the
following Franklin County Prison employees: Warden William
Bechtold, Deputy Warden Michelle Weller, Deputy Warden James
Sullen, and Nurses Crystal Kenndy and Sierra Helser.
pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint, filed on behalf of Defendants
Warden Bechtold, Deputy Wardens Sullen and Weller. (Doc.
17). The motion is fully briefed and is ripe for
disposition. For the following reasons, the Court will grant
Motion to Dismiss
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). Thus, “a judicial
conspiracy claim must include at least a discernible factual
basis to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal.”
Capogrosso v. The Supreme Court of New Jersey, 588
F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam).
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).
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. See Lopez.
plaintiff, in order to state a viable §1983 claim, must
plead two essential elements: (1) that the conduct complained
of was committed by a person acting under color of state law,
and (2) that said conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States. Groman v. Township of Manalapan,
47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995); Shaw by Strain v.
Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).
Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual
punishment does not only restrain affirmative conduct, such
as the use of excessive force against prisoners.
See, e.g., Hudson v. McMillian,
503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992). It also imposes a duty on prison
officials to provide humane conditions of confinement and to
“take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of
the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
832 (1994). “A prison official's ‘deliberate
indifference' to a substantial risk of serious harm to an
inmate violates the Eighth Amendment.” Id. at
828. A substantial risk of serious harm “may be
established by much less than proof of a reign of violence
and terror, ” but requires more than a single incident
or isolated incidents. See Riley v. Jeffes, 777 F.2d
143, 147 (3d Cir. 1985). To determine whether officials
operated with deliberate indifference, courts question
whether they consciously knew of and disregarded an excessive
risk to the prisoner's well being. Farmer, 511
U.S. at 840-44. Not only must a prison official be
“aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, ” but
the official “must also draw the inference.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. “[A] prison official
is deliberately indifferent when he knows or
should have known of a sufficiently serious danger to an
inmate.” Young v. Quinlan, 960 F.2d
351, 361 (3d Cir. 1992) (emphasis in original). The term
“should have known” is a term of art, which
[d]oes not refer to a failure to note a risk that would be
perceived with the use of ordinary prudence. It connotes
something more than a negligent failure to appreciate the
risk ..., though something less than subjective appreciation
of that risk. The “strong likelihood” of [harm]
must be “so obvious that a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for” preventative action. [T]he
risk of ... injury must be not only great, but also
sufficiently apparent that a lay custodian's failure to
appreciate it evidences an absence of any concern for the
welfare of his or her charges.
Id. (quoting Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp.,
946 F.2d 1017, 1025 (3d Cir. 1991)) (citation omitted,
alterations in original). “Mere negligence claims do
not constitute ‘deliberate indifference.' ”
Innis v. Wilson, 334 Fed.Appx. 454, 475 (3d
Cir. 2009) (per curiam). As such, prison officials
are not subject to liability as the result of negligent acts
that cause unintended injury to inmates. Daniels v.
Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986)(holding that inmate who
was injured when he slipped on a pillow that was negligently
left on the stairs by deputy sheriff does not state claim
it is well established that personal liability in a civil
rights action cannot be imposed upon a state official based
on a theory of respondeat superior. See,
e.g., Rizzo v. Goode,423 U.S. 362 (1976).
It is also well-settled in the Third Circuit that personal
involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional
deprivations is a requirement in a civil rights case and that
a complaint must allege such personal involvement. Sutton
v. Rasheed,323 F.3d 236, 249-250 (3d Cir. 2003). Each
named defendant must be shown, through the complaint's
allegations, to have been personally involved ...