United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF NO.
RICHARD A. LANZILLO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
[ECF No. 44] Plaintiffs Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed
below, the Court will grant Defendant's
Daniel Crowe, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution
at Albion, commenced this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on September 7, 2016 by filing a Complaint
alleging that Defendant Robert Maxa ("Dr. Maxa"),
the prison physician, violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
denying him necessary medical care. Dr. Maza moved to dismiss
Plaintiffs Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that
it failed to allege facts sufficient to support a plausible
claim that Dr. Maxa acted with deliberate indifference to
Plaintiffs serious medical needs. ECF. No. 29. On November 9,
2018, this Court granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss,
but also granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint
in an effort to cure the deficiencies of his claim. ECF No.
41. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on November 30,
2018. ECF No. 43. Dr. Maxa filed the pending Motion to
Dismiss the Amended Complaint on December 20, 2018. ECF No.
44. Plaintiff responded to the motion on February 1, 2019.
ECF No. 47. Dr. Maxa filed a reply brief on February 4, 2019.
ECF No. 48. Plaintiff filed a sur-reply on February 28, 2019.
ECF No. 49. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he went to a sick
call appointment with Dr. Maxa for back pain on December 4,
2015. ECF No. 43, ¶ 6. Dr. Maxa reviewed a recent MRI
and informed Plaintiff that he had degenerative disc disease
in his spine. Id. at ¶ 7. Plaintiff then
specifically requested Ultram, a prescription medication for
his pain. Id. at ¶¶ 8, 10). Dr. Maxa
refused to prescribe this medication, telling Plaintiff that
Ultram was not on the Department of Correction's list of
approved medications for financial reasons. Id. at
¶ 10. Plaintiff further alleges that he told Dr. Maxa
that this was deliberate indifference to his medical care and
that Dr. Maxa ended the visit by "denying any and all
treatment." /c/. at ¶¶ 11-13.
grievance from this encounter, which Plaintiff attached to
his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff further alleged that Dr.
Maxa "prescribed 'NSAID' medications even though
I told him they were not effective from my experience .. .
." ECF No. 43-1. Plaintiffs grievance states
that this prescription was provided during Plaintiffs first
meeting with Dr. Maxa, which meeting Plaintiff identifies as
having occurred on December 4, 2015. Id.
Standards of Review
Pro se Litigants
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)
Motion to dismiss
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
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).
complaint does not need detailed factual allegations to
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide more
than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. A "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do." Id. (citing Papasan
v. Allain,478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Moreover, a court
need not accept inferences drawn by a plaintiff if they are
unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint.
See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb
Corp.,394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing
Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist.,132 F.3d 902, 906
(3d Cir. 1997)). Nor must the Court accept legal conclusions
disguised as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555. See also McTernan v. City of York,