United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ronald Ray, an inmate presently housed at the Mahanoy State
Correctional Institution (SCI-Mahanoy), in Frackville,
Pennsylvania, commenced this civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Named as Defendants are
the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), Correct
Care Solutions (CCS) and Physician Assistant (PA) Russell
seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 2 and
6.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Mr.
Ray's request to proceed in forma pauperis but
dismiss the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). However, the Court will grant Mr. Ray
leave to file an amended complaint against CCS and PA Miller.
Standard of Review for Screening Pro Se In Forma
litigant seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, without
payment of fees, 28 U.S.C. § 1915 requires the court to
screen the complaint. See28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Likewise, when a prisoner seeks redress from a
government defendant in a civil action, whether proceeding
in forma pauperis or not, the court must screen the
complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Both 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915(A) give the court
the authority to dismiss a complaint if it is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2);
Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013).
complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or fact. See Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523,
530 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327-28, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1832-33, 104 L.Ed.2d 338
(1989)). In deciding whether the complaint fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, the court employs the
standard used to analyze motions to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Allah v.
Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000). Under Rule
12(b)(6), the court “must accept all of the
complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard
any legal conclusions.” Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 1949-50, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). The court may also
rely on exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of
public record. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268
(3d Cir. 2007).
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . .
.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint is required to
provide “the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d
Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).
the sufficiency of the complaint, the court “must take
three steps.” Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp.,
809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). First, a court must
“take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to
state a claim.” Id.(internal quotations and
brackets omitted). Second, the court must identify
allegations that are merely legal conclusions “because
they . . . are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. While detailed factual allegations
are not required, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Third, a court should assume the
veracity of all well-pleaded factual allegations and
“then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Connelly, 809 F.3d at
787 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. at
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) (citing 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 “must allege
sufficient facts in their complaints to support a
claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704
F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). Pro
se litigants are to be granted 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 of 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.
Allegations of the Complaint
March 29, 2018, PA Miller treated Mr. Ray for a fungal
infection and prescribed him an antifungal cream, Tolfanate.
(ECF No. 1 at ¶ 1.) After using the cream for three
days, Mr. Ray developed a painful and inflamed blister on his
upper left arm. (Id. at ¶ 2.) On April 8, 2018,
Mr. Ray returned to the medical unit due to the unbearable
pain from the “burn caused by the Tolfanate
cream”. (Id. at ¶ 3.) PA Williams saw him
and advised to stop using the Tolfanate cream. He also told
Mr. Ray he would have a permanent scar on his arm.
(Id.) Mr. Ray then requested to see Medical Director
Courtney Rodgers and stated he never wanted to be treated by
PA Miller again. Staff advised him that he could not choose
which medical providers would treat him. (Id. at
unknown date, while in the infirmary for a procedure to his
hand, Dr. Rodgers asked to examine the “blistering scar
tissue on his left arm”. (Id. at ¶ 5.)
After a cursory examination of it, Dr. Rodgers
“stat[ed] absolutely nothing.” (Id.) Mr.
Ray continues to suffer discomfort due to the blister on his
left arm. Additionally, his rash remains untreated and has
spread to his back and chest. (Id. at ¶ 6.)
asserts claims of “medical negligence, ”
violations of the Eighth Amendment and the intentional
infliction of emotional distress. He claims he is unable to
live a normal healthy life due to Defendants' actions
because he suffers from daily pain and is unable to work.
(Id. at ¶¶ 7 - 9.) He seeks compensatory