United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY JUDGE
Tolentino, a Pennsylvania state prisoner, filed a 42 U.S.C. Â§
1983 complaint alleging that Defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment rights with regard to the medical treatment
prescribed for Tolentino's post-traumatic stress disorder
and other ailments. (Doc. 1). This Court previously conducted
an initial screening of Tolentino's complaint and
dismissed several defendants from the action for failure to
state a claim. (Docs. 14, 15). The Court permitted Tolentino
to file an amended complaint, and he has filed a timely
supplemental complaint that clarifies some of the claims
contained in his original complaint. (Doc. 17).
supplemental complaint, Tolentino alleges that Dr. Xue knew
that Tolentino required medical treatment-in the form of a
fast-acting medication-but refused to provide such medication
despite knowing of a risk of harm to Tolentino based upon
that refusal. (Doc. 17 at 1). Tolentino further alleges that
Price maintained a policy of inadequate medical staffing,
which resulted in delays and a week-long failure to respond
to sick call slips submitted by Tolentino. (Id. at
4). Tolentino also asserts that several supervisory officials
failed to respond-or responded inadequately-to
Tolentino's requests for assistance (id. at
2-3), and that Bob Lynch acted as Price's "front man
to conce[a]l her unlawful acts for the unlawful policy and
practice she operates." (Id. at 3).
Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary
review of pro se complaints brought by plaintiffs who proceed
in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
This obligation requires that the Court dismiss a complaint
if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. Id. § 915(e)(2)(B)(ii). To determine
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, this
Court must "accept all factual allegations in the
complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor." Alpizar-Falias v.
Favero, 908 F.3d 910, 914 (3d Cir. 2018).
Court concludes that Tolentino's additional allegations
are again insufficient to state a claim against Kauffman,
Brumbaugh, Sisto (identified in the original complaint as
Suto), or Walters (collectively "Supervisory
Defendants"). Although Tolentino asserts that
Supervisory Defendants failed to intervene in Tolentino's
medical treatment after Tolentino notified them of his
medical issues, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit has repeatedly stated that "[a]
non-medical prison official is not charged with deliberate
indifference for withholding adequate medical care from a
prisoner being treated by medical personnel 'absent a
reason to believe (or actual knowledge) that prison doctors
or their assistants are mistreating (or not treating) a
prisoner.'" Brown v. Mace-Liebson, No.
18-2205, 2019 WL 2950015, at *3 (3d Cir. July 9, 2019)
(quoting Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 236 (3d
Cir. 2004)). Supervisory Defendants are not medical personnel
and, because Tolentino has not alleged that they "had
any reason to believe that the prison doctors or their
assistants were mistreating [Tolentino]," there simply
is no basis to hold Supervisory Defendants liable.
Tolentino asserts that Lynch may be held liable because he
acted as a "front man" for Price. (Doc. 17 at 3).
However, there is no allegation that Lynch played in role in
staffing at the prison, or that he had any involvement in
medical treatment for prisoners. Absent such allegations, any
claim against Lynch must be dismissed.
allegations are, however, sufficient to avoid dismissal as to
claims against Xue and Price. First, the allegation that Xue
knew that Tolentino needed certain treatment for an obvious
medical issue but refused to provide that treatment
adequately states an Eighth Amendment claim. See Parkell
v. Danberg, 833 F.3d 313, 337 (3d Cir. 2016).
(Deliberate indifference is shown where defendant "knows
of a prisoner's need for medical treatment but
intentionally refuses to provide it" (internal quotation
Tolentino alleges that Price refused to adequately staff the
medical department, resulting in the failure of medical staff
to respond to Tolentino's sick call requests for one
week. (Doc. 17 at 4). This allegation is sufficient to state
a claim for supervisory liability on the theory that Price
"established and maintained a policy, practice or custom
which directly caused [Tolentino's] constitutional
harm." Parkell, 833 F.3d at 330.
foregoing reasons, this Court will reinstate claims against
only Xue and Price, and direct service upon ...