United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO DISMISS
action arises from injuries that Plaintiff, Curt Eckstrom,
allegedly suffered while serving a state sentence at Luzerne
Treatment Center (“Luzerne”). Plaintiff's
Complaint (ECF 1, “Compl.”) alleges six Counts
against Defendants Community Education Centers, Inc.
(“CEC”), doing business as Luzerne; The GEO
Group, Inc. (“GEO”); Diversified Health
Associates, Inc. (“DHA”), also doing business as
Luzerne; Viviam Agostini, the Director of Luzerne; Tanya
Moore, Plaintiff's counselor at Luzerne; the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections (“DOC”); ABC Companies
and John Does I-V:
Count I: Disability discrimination under
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12131 (“ADA”);
Count II: Discrimination under § 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a);
Count III: Violations of the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under
42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Count IV: Disability discrimination under
the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951
et seq. (“PHRA”);
Count V: Reckless disregard of safety in
violation of state law; and
Count VI: State law negligence.
seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as
attorneys' fees and costs. Presently before this Court is
the Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, III, and IV of the
Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) filed by Defendants CEC, DHA, GEO, Agostini, and
Moore (together, “Moving
Defendants.”). For the reasons discussed below, Moving
Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff's allegations as true, the factual background
is as follows. Plaintiff resides in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant CEC is a
corporation incorporated in Delaware with its principal place
of business in New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant
GEO, a successor corporation of CEC, is both incorporated in
and has its principal place of business in Florida.
(Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant DHA is incorporated in and
has its principal place of business in Pennsylvania.
(Id. ¶ 4.) Defendant Agostini, an agent of CEC,
GEO, and DHA, was the Director of Luzerne. (Id.
¶¶ 5, 11.) Defendant Moore, who was also an agent
of CEC, GEO, and DHA, was employed as a counselor at Luzerne.
(Id. ¶ 6.)
whose right leg was amputated in 1994, served a state
sentence in Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 14.) As a
condition of his sentence, Plaintiff was confined as a
resident at Luzerne beginning on or about February 21, 2017.
(Id. ¶ 17.) On that date, Plaintiff was
required to use a non-handicapped-accessible shower.
(Id. ¶ 20.) The shower contained
“extremely slippery” tile flooring and was not
equipped with a flexible, removable shower head; grab bars;
or a shower chair. (Id.) Afterward, Plaintiff told
Moore that the available showers were not sufficient to
accommodate his disability and were unsafe. (Id.
¶ 21.) Plaintiff requested a handicapped-accessible
shower, but Defendants refused his request. (Id.
¶¶ 23, 25.) Though Luzerne did have a
handicapped-accessible shower, the shower did not have
running water or a shower head, and it was used to store
chairs. (Id. ¶ 23.)
result, on February 23, 2017, Plaintiff was again forced to
shower in a non-handicapped-accessible shower. (Id.
¶ 26.) The shower was too small for Plaintiff to use his
crutches, so he had to stand on one leg with nothing to hold
onto while he showered. (Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff
slipped and fell, sustaining injuries to his left shoulder,
knee, and lower extremity. (Id. ¶ 28.)
Plaintiff remained on the shower floor for approximately
fifteen minutes before another inmate saw him and summoned a
nurse. (Id. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff was immediately
taken to the Emergency Department at Hahnemann University
Hospital, where an MRI revealed a complete tear and
retraction of Plaintiff's left rotator cuff tendon.
(Id. ¶ 30.)
days later, on February 27, Plaintiff was discharged from the
hospital with instructions to follow up with an orthopedic
surgeon. (Id. ¶ 31.) Due to the nature of
Plaintiff's injuries, which include complete tear and
retraction of his supraspinatus tendon, muscle atrophy,
partial tear of the subscapularis tendon, and tendonitis,
Plaintiff must undergo shoulder replacement surgery.
(Id. ¶¶ 33, 39.)
February 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this case
against Defendants CEC, GEO, DHA, Agostini, Moore, the DOC,
ABC Companies I-X, and John Does I-V (ECF 1). This action was
originally also filed under Civil Action No. 19-1998. Upon a
Motion filed by Moving Defendants, the Court consolidated the
cases and ordered the parties to submit all further filings
under Civil Action No. 19-782 (ECF 21, 22).
14, 2019, Moving Defendants filed the instant Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's federal claims and state disability
discrimination claim-Counts I, II, III, and IV of the
Complaint (ECF 9, “Mot.”). Plaintiff filed a
Response in opposition on June 17, 2019 (ECF 15,
DOC filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss Counts III, IV, V, and
VI against it on May 31, 2019 (ECF 12), which the Court
granted as unopposed on July 22, 2019 (ECF 20, 23). As a
result, the only claims remaining against the DOC are the ADA
and Rehabilitation Act claims-Counts I and II of the
Complaint. The DOC subsequently filed an Answer to the
Complaint on August 5, 2019 (ECF 25).
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
Court “accept[s] all factual allegations as true [and]
construe[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Warren Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen, Inc.,
643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (internal quotations marks and
citations omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Court in Iqbal explained that, although a court must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a
complaint, that requirement does not apply to legal
conclusions; therefore, pleadings must include factual
allegations to support the legal claims asserted.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 684. “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555); see also Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556 n.3) (“We caution that without some factual
allegation in the complaint, a claimant cannot satisfy the
requirement that he or she will provide not only ‘fair
notice,' but also the ‘grounds' on which the
claim rests.”). Accordingly, to survive a motion to
dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556).
Moving Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claims under the ADA
and the Rehabilitation Act (Counts I and II) must be
dismissed because Moving Defendants are individuals and
private corporations, not “public entities”
subject to liability under these statutes. (Mot. at 5-6.) As
to Plaintiff's § 1983 claim (Count III), Moving
Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to allege a policy
or custom that caused a constitutional violation, as required
to demonstrate municipal liability. (Id. at 7-9.)
Rather, Moving Defendants contend that the Complaint contains
conclusory allegations that Moving Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id.) To
the extent that Plaintiff alleges ...