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Jordan v. Murin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 25, 2019

DAVID JORDAN, Plaintiff
v.
LIEUTENANT MURIN, et al., Defendants

          Susan Paradise Baxter United States District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS [ECF NOS. 38, 44]

          RICHARD A. LANZILLO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Recommendation

         It is respectfully recommended that the DOC[1] Defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 44] be granted in part and denied in part. It is further recommended that the Medical[2]Defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 38] be denied.

         II. Report

         A. Introduction

         Plaintiff David Jordan, a prisoner in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his civil rights under the First and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. ECF No. 3. Presently pending before the Court are (1) DOC Defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 44], and (2) the Medical Defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 38], both of which were filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         B. Standard of Review

         i. Motion to Dismiss

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court is not opining on whether the plaintiff will be likely to prevail on the merits; rather, the plaintiff must only present factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)). A complaint should only be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) if it fails to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (rejecting the traditional 12 (b)(6) standard established in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). In making this determination, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint and views them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. U.S. Express Lines Ltd. v. Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002).

         ii. Pro Se Parties

         Pro se pleadings, "however inartfully pleaded," must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972). If the court can reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, poor syntax and sentence construction, or litigant's unfamiliarity with pleading requirements. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982); United States ex rel. Montgomery v. Bierley, 141 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969) (petition prepared by a prisoner may be inartfully drawn and should be read "with a measure of tolerance"); Smith v. U.S. District Court, 956 F.2d 295 (D.C. Cir. 1992); Freeman v. Dep't of Corrections, 949 F.2d 360 (10th Cir. 1991). Under our liberal pleading rules, during the initial stages of litigation, a district court should construe all allegations in a complaint in favor of the complainant. Gibbs v. Roman, 116 F.3d 83 (3d Cir. 1997). See, e.g., Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996) (discussing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard); Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990) (same).

         Here, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, this Court evaluates Plaintiffs Complaint under this more generous standard.

         C. Material Facts Alleged in Plaintiffs Complaint

         On May 1, 2016, at 8:25 am, approximately three months after Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendant Drayer, Plaintiff was assaulted by several prison guards. ECF No. 3, ¶ 21-31; 42. The incident began when Defendants Baumcratz and Griffin arrived at Plaintiffs cell to perform a "security cell inspection." Id. at ¶ 21. They handcuffed Plaintiff, and then kicked around his legal papers while Defendant Griffin told Plaintiff to "stop filing shit." Id. at ¶ 21-22. Defendant Drayer, who smelled like liquor, then arrived on the scene. Id. at ¶ 25. He and Defendant Baumcratz then attacked Plaintiff, first by pushing Plaintiff into a "blindspot" out of view of the security cameras, and then by attempting to pull Plaintiffs shoulder out of its socket, punching him several times in the back of his head, slamming his head against the wall, choking him, twisting his fingers, and then slamming him on the ground. Id. at ¶¶ 26-28. Defendants Cochran, Murin, Lutz, Griffin, and Palmer were all present but failed to intervene. Id. at ¶ 29. Together, those Defendants then "yanked" a tether which was tied to Plaintiffs handcuffs and dragged him backwards a distance of ten feet. Id. at ¶ 35-36. As a result of the incident, Plaintiff suffered extreme pain in his wrists, lower back, knees, and neck, as well as a permanent loss of feeling in his left thumb, and several issues with his cervical spine.

         Following the incident, at 8:58 am, Plaintiff lay on the floor of his cell, moaning and crying out for medical assistance. Id. at ¶ 45. Defendant Nurse Jordan arrived and left immediately after Plaintiff told her of the pain in his back, neck, fingers, wrist, and head. Id. at ¶ 46-47. She did not physically examine him or provide any medical assistance. Id. at ¶ 53.

         From 9:15 am to 11:37 am, Plaintiff told Defendants Kosarek, Cochran, and LaRoche that he had been attacked by guards and needed medical attention. Id. at ΒΆ ...


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