United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
August 2018, Mr. Spillman initiated this civil rights action
after suffering a basketball injury to his ankle and
subsequent injury to his lower back while housed at
SCI-Benner Township. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff named Dr. Kollman,
a contract physician, and seven Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections (DOC) employees as Defendants.The DOC Defendants
filed an Answer to the Complaint while Dr. Kollman filed a
motion to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 19 and 42.) Mr. Spillman filed
an opposition brief (ECF No. 41) and Dr. Kollman has filed a
reply (ECF No. 43). Dr. Kollman's motion is now ripe for
disposition. Also pending before the Court is Mr.
Spillman's unbriefed motion for summary judgment (ECF No.
39) and motion to stay (ECF No. 44) these proceedings pending
his release from custody.
following reasons, the Court will grant Dr. Kollman's
motion to dismiss, deem Mr. Spillman's motion for summary
judgment withdrawn, and deny his motion to stay.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) supports the dismissal of a
complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged---but not shown---that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679,
129 S.Ct. at 1950 (internal quotation marks and brackets
Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires a pleading to contain “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” A complaint must provide
“the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964. Although Rule 8
“does not require ‘detailed factual
allegations,' … it [does] demand … more
than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation, ” and a complaint does not suffice
“if it tenders ‘naked assertions[s]' devoid
of ‘further factual enhancement.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544, 127 S.Ct. at 1955).
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the role of the court is to
determine whether the complaint has “'enough
fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of' each element.” United
States ex rel. Bookwalter v. UPMC, No. 18-1693, 2019 WL
4437732, at *3 (3d Cir. Sept. 17, 2019) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965). In
reviewing the sufficiency of the complaint, a court must take
First, it must “tak[e] note of the elements [the]
plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 675. Second, it should identify allegations that,
“because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at
679. See also Burtch v. Milberg Factors,
Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011) (“Mere
restatements of the elements of a claim are not entitled to
the assumption of truth.” (citation and editorial marks
omitted)). Finally, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity
and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786-87
(3d Cir. 2016).
addressing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court is compelled to
accept as true and must view them in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff. Estate of Roman v. City of
Newark, 914 F.3d 789, 795 (3d Cir. 2019)(quoting
Warren Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen Inc., 643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d
Cir. 2011)). However, the court is not compelled to accept
“unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, or
a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Morrow v. Balaski, 719 F.3d 160, 165 (3d Cir. 2013)
(quoting Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d
Cir. 2007)). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court may
only consider “documents that are attached to or
submitted with the complaint, and any matters incorporated by
reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial
notice, matters of public record, orders, [and] items
appearing in the record of the case.” Buck v.
Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
2006) (citations and internal quotations marks omitted).
complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff must be
liberally construed and “held ‘to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.'” Fantone v. Latini, 780 F.3d
184, 193 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 - 21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 596, 30 L.Ed.2d 652
(1972)); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007).
Yet, even a pro se plaintiff's complaint
“must contain allegations permitting the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Jackson v. Div. of Developmental
Disabilities, 394 Fed.Appx. 950, 951 n. 3 (3d Cir. 2010)
(nonprecedential) (quoted case omitted). Federal courts must
grant pro se litigants leave to file a curative
amended complaint, even when a plaintiff does not seek leave
to amend, unless such an amendment would be inequitable or
futile. See Estate v. Lagano v. Bergen Cty.
Prosecutor's Office, 769 F.3d 850, 861 (3d Cir.
2014). A complaint that sets forth facts which affirmatively
demonstrate that the plaintiff has no right to recover is
properly dismissed without leave to amend. Grayson v.
Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002).
these principles in mind, the Court sets forth the background
to this litigation, as Plaintiff alleges it in his Complaint.