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Jones v. SCI Fayette

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 18, 2019

JOSEPH JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
SCI FAYETTE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          CHAD F. KENNEY, J.

         Plaintiff Joseph Jones, a prisoner currently incarcerated at SCI Fayette, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on allegations that his constitutional rights were violated with respect to the denial of medical attention and the denial of a wheelchair. Jones seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Jones leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint with leave to amend.

         I. FACTS

         The Complaint lodged by Jones raises constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against SCI Fayette in its official capacity. (ECF No. 2 at 2.)[1] Jones alleges that at the time of the incident giving rise to his Complaint, he was a convicted and sentenced state prisoner confined at SCI Fayette. (Id. at 2, 4, 12.)

         The allegations in Jones's Complaint are brief. Jones avers that on March 1, 2019 at approximately 5:00 p.m., he fell in the dayroom in Pod 6A. (Id. at 4-5.) Jones further alleges that he was denied "medical attention which ended up wit[h] [him] falling and injuring [his] back." (Id. at 3.) Jones avers that he has muscular dystrophy and had previously been given a wheelchair while he was at SCI Fayette, but the wheelchair was taken away when he was temporarily transferred to county jail. (Id. at 12.) Upon his return to SCI Fayette, "they refused to return" the wheelchair. (Id.) Jones contends that upon his return, he spoke with the medical staff and corrections officers at SCI Fayette and filed a grievance regarding the reinstatement of his wheelchair, which was denied. (Id. at 7, 12, 14.) At the time of his fall, Jones did not have a wheelchair. (Id. at 12.) After his fall, he was assisted by correctional officers who placed him into a wheelchair and took him to "medical" for evaluation. (Id. at 12-13.) Jones asserts that "they would not take me to a hospital." (Id. at 5.) Jones avers that after his fall, he was issued a wheelchair and sent back to his cell. (Id. at 6, 13.)

         Jones contends that he has suffered injuries to his back, knee, and neck as well as physical and emotional distress, loss of sleep, and severe constant headaches. (Id. at 5, 13.) Jones seeks $3, 000, 000 for pain and suffering, asserting that he will "have these symptoms for the rest of [his] life." (Id. at 5.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court will grant Jones leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action.[2] Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine whether the complaint contains "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 (2009) (quotations omitted). Conclusory allegations do not suffice. Id. As Jones is proceeding prose, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         III. DISCUSSION

         "To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Jones only names the prison where he was housed, SCI Fayette, as a Defendant in this action. As such, he has failed to allege a claim against a valid defendant. Jones's § 1983 claims against SCI Fayette are dismissed because a jail is not a "person" amenable to suit under Section 1983.[3] Miller v. Curran-Fromhold Corr. Facility, Civ. A. No. 13-7680, 2014 WL 4055846, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 13, 2014) (citing Mitchell v. Chester Cty. Farms Prison, 426 F.Supp. 271 (E.D. Pa. 1976).

         This Court, however, is unable to conclude that Jones could never state a claim based on the failure to provide him a wheelchair. To state a constitutional claim based on the failure to provide medical treatment, a prisoner must allege facts indicating that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994). A prison official is not deliberately indifferent "unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safely; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837. "A medical need is serious, ... if it is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment or one that is so obvious that a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Monmouth Cty. Corr. Institutional Inmates v. Lanzaro, 834 F.2d 326, 347 (3d Cir. 1987) (internal quotations omitted). Deliberate indifference is properly alleged "where the prison official (1) knows of a prisoner's need for medical treatment but intentionally refuses to provide it; (2) delays necessary medical treatment based on a non-medical reason; or (3) prevents a prisoner from receiving needed or recommended medical treatment." Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999). Allegations of medical malpractice and mere disagreement regarding proper medical treatment are insufficient to establish a constitutional violation. See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 235 (3d Cir. 2004). Furthermore, "[a] defendant in a civil rights action must have personal involvement in the alleged wrongs" to be liable. See Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988). Accordingly, in the Order that follows, Jones will be permitted to file an amended complaint if he can state a claim for deliberate indifference against an appropriate defendant.

         Moreover, to the extent that Jones alleges a violation of his rights with respect to the denial of his grievance, this Court notes that claims based on the handling of prison grievances fail because "[p]rison inmates do not have a constitutionally protected right to a grievance process." Jackson v. Gordon, 145 Fed.Appx. 774, 777 (3d Cir. 2005) (per curiam); see also Caldwell v. Beard, 324 Fed.Appx. 186, 189 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam). Accordingly, any facts alleged by Jones about grievances do not give rise to a plausible basis for a constitutional claim and will be dismissed with prejudice.

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant Jones leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii). This dismissal will be without prejudice to Jones's right to file an amended complaint in the event he can state a plausible claim against an appropriate ...


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