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Mickens v. Clark

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 24, 2019

MICHAEL CLARK, et al., Defendants



         Plaintiff Robert Mickens, Sr., ("Plaintiff), an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Albion ("SCI-Albion"), initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that various prison officials violated his Eighth Amendment rights by displaying deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs as well as holding him in unconstitutional conditions of confinement. ECF No. 6. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on November 23, 2018, which is the operative pleading in this action. ECF No. 42. Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 43] for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion will be granted.[1]

         I. Factual Background

         In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he contracted a "Manny-Bacterial" infection from a defective toilet "located in his (25) cell due to his penis resting in tainted water prior to the discovery of the hazardous bile leaking to and fro (sic) the malfunctioning toilets." ECF No. 42, ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that he submitted a "work order" for the malfunctioning toilet and further states that Maintenance Manager Thomas Mook received the work order electronically but failed to timely address the plumbing issue for "at least three weeks." Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff further alleges that prison Superintendent Michael Clark failed to take action to protect him from unsanitary and dangerous conditions at SCI-Albion. Id. at ¶ 72.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant RN Gloria Gibbs twice denied him emergency treatment for an issue with his penis on July 18, 2017, first at 10:30 a.m., and again at 3:15 p.m. Id. at ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff alleges that Gibbs declined to provide treatment because Plaintiff refused to sign a form acknowledging his obligation to pay the medical co-payment of $5.00; she instead allowed Plaintiff to return to his cell with his penis wrapped in toilet paper. Id. at ¶ 11. On July 19, 2017, Plaintiff was "sent back to medical on an emergency pass" and was "assessed" by RN Supervisor Michael Edwards, but Supervisor Edwards also denied Plaintiff emergency treatment and declined to provide care because Plaintiff again refused to sign the form acknowledging his obligation to pay the co-pay of $5.00. Id. at ¶¶ 12, 36. During that same visit, Supervisor Edwards referred Plaintiff to Infectious Control Nurse Jessica Owen for investigation of a possible sexually transmitted disease. Id. at ¶ 36. The next day, on July 20, 2017, Plaintiff was assessed by Nurse Owens and Physician Assistant Alexis Secara. Id. at ¶ 37. P.A. Secara prescribed Plaintiff with the following medications:

• 150 mg tab of Fluconazole, relating to a yeast infection;
• Clotrimazole 1% cream, as a substitute for Lotrimin; and
• Bacitracin Zinc Polymyxin B Sulfate, a "double antibiotic ointment, " to "treat the trauma to plaintiffs penis."

Id. at ¶ 38.

         Under the heading of "Exhaustion, " Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint indicates that Plaintiff received additional medical attention and test results on various other dates. The dates of testing and treatment, however, are not chronological, and it is difficult to discern whether certain references are related to others or to the conditions upon which Plaintiff bases his claims. Plaintiff alleges that on July 25, 2017, he "filed a complaint alleging that he placed a sick call slip into the medical box to have his kidney and liver function checked." Id. at ¶ 40. In the next paragraph of the Amended Complaint, however, Plaintiff states that "results of blood work revealed that Mickens had contracted a bacterial infection" and that on July 14, 2017, he "was treated with the antibiotic prescribed by Alexis Secara." Id. at ¶ 41. This allegation appears to contradict Plaintiffs earlier allegation that certain Defendants initially refused to treat him and that he was not prescribed medication for his infection until July 20, 2017. Later paragraphs of the Second Amended Complaint further indicate that Plaintiff was administered a course of antibiotics and other medications for his condition no later than July 14, 2017. See e.g. Id . at ¶ 52 (referencing a record entry stating, "The inmate was first evaluated on 07.14.17, for complaint of Dysuria (painful urination and foul smelling urine). He was administered a course of antibiotics, sulfa drug known as Bactrim, ...")(emphasis in original). Additionally, on October 3, 2017, it appears that Plaintiff was prescribed a ten-day course of treatment of Sulfatrim. Id. at ¶ 62.

         Plaintiff commenced this action on January 26, 2018. He filed his Second Amended Complaint on November 23, 2018. ECF No. 6. On December 5, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 43. Plaintiff responded to the motion on January 29, 2019. ECF No. 55. This matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Pro se Litigants

         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 ...

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