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Romanell v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 7, 2019

JAMES ROMANELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC and DAVID DRUSKIN, PA-C, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER ECF NO. 9

          MAUREEN P. KELLY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff James Romanell (“Plaintiff”) initiated this action against Defendants Correct Care Solutions, LLC and David Druskin (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging state law professional negligence claims as well as a claim for the violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, arising out of Defendants' failure to provide necessary medical treatment and deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.

         Presently before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 9. For the reasons that follow, the Partial Motion to Dismiss will be denied.[1]

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that in late February 2017, he suffered a significant injury to his right arm when he was hit by a moving train.[2] ECF No. 1 ¶ 8. Plaintiff was treated by trauma surgeons for a complex fracture of his right humerus. Repair required an open reduction internal fixation, with the use of screws and plates to hold the bone in alignment during the healing process. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Upon Plaintiff's release from the hospital, he was transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Fayette (“SCI - Fayette”) with instructions not to perform any weight-bearing activities with his right arm. Id. ¶ 12.

         At intake, SCI - Fayette medical personnel noted that Plaintiff had just been released from the hospital, with 30 surgical staples, and wearing a sling. Id. ¶ 13-15. He was assigned to bottom bunk status and was initially housed in the infirmary. Id. ¶ 17. Thereafter, Plaintiff was released to general population and assigned a top bunk. Plaintiff voiced numerous requests for a bottom bunk, given his post-surgical non-weightbearing status and history of back pain, but was told “[t]his isn't Graterford, ” and his request was denied. Id. ¶¶ 19-28.

         Approximately two weeks later, Plaintiff was required to bear weight on his right arm to reach his bunk, and he felt something “pop” in his surgically-repaired arm. Id. ¶ 29. Plaintiff immediately reported his injury and was told to submit a sick call request. Plaintiff returned to the medical department on April 17, 2017, and was seen by Defendant Druskin, a physician's assistant, who ordered an x-ray. Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff told Defendant Druskin that he believed he had broken his arm, but Druskin stated that nothing could be done until he reviewed the x-ray, in approximately three weeks. Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff complained that he was in severe pain, but Druskin said there was nothing he could do, except approve bottom bunk status. Id. ¶ 35. Plaintiff returned to his cell and fashioned a splint using two plastic knives and an ace bandage. Id. ¶¶ 36- 37.

         The x-ray report revealed that three screws were broken at the anteromedial aspect of the humerus junction with the plate. Id. ¶ 37. The diagnostic service recommended “clinical correlation with appropriate follow up.” Id. ¶ 40. Plaintiff submitted a grievance stating that he was in extreme pain, his arm was visibly deformed, and his muscles weren't working properly. Id. ¶ 41. He followed up with an additional request for help, again complaining of “extreme pain to the point where my hand shakes.” Id. ¶ 42. Despite receiving the x-ray report on April 18, 2017, Druskin did not review the report until April 27, 2017. Plaintiff saw Druskin on May 1, 2017, and Druskin noted that Plaintiff was in pain, and that his x-ray revealed three screws broken from the lower plate. Id. ¶ 45. Druskin informed Plaintiff that his bone had deviated from the plate but, despite these findings, stated there was nothing he could do because the bone was healing. Id. ¶ 46. Druskin did not order an orthopedic evaluation or treatment for Plaintiff's pain and broken surgical hardware, but did arrange for a second x-ray. Id. ¶¶ 47-48. After seeing the second x-ray, Druskin commented that he could “see what they mean now” but, rather than arrange or order treatment, he returned Plaintiff to his cell and told him the bone would “heal on its own.” Id. ¶ 50. The diagnostic report revealed that the alignment of Plaintiff's arm was satisfactory but the “distal three screws in the orthopedic plate are broken … The appearance is similar to 4/17/17. Recommend clinical correlation with appropriate follow-up and additional imaging as indicated.” Id. ¶ 51.

         In early May 2017, Plaintiff returned to his surgeon for a scheduled follow-up. Plaintiff alleges, “[t]he surgeon was shocked by the state of Mr. Romanell's arm, and advised that he needed immediate surgery.” Id. ¶¶ 52-53. Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital, and underwent surgical revision of the previous open reduction the following day. Id. ¶ 54.

         Through counsel, Plaintiff filed this civil rights action, alleging a claim against Druskin for the violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights and also alleging claims for professional negligence against both Druskin and Correct Care. Defendants responded with the pending Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim. ECF No. 9. The parties have filed briefs in support and in opposition to the Partial Motion to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 10 and 16, and the motion is now ripe for consideration.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In assessing the sufficiency of the complaint pursuant to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint and all reasonable factual inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Odd v. Malone, 538 F.3d 202, 205 (3d Cir. 2008). While a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations to survive the motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide more than labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 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)). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and sufficient “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.

         “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.... Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         In other words, at the motion to dismiss stage, a plaintiff is required to make “a showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief.” Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). “This ‘does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that ...


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