United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. Rambo, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court pursuant to the motion to dismiss
(Doc. No. 23) filed by Defendants Dr. Edward Zaloga
(“Dr. Zaloga”) and Anthony Ianuzzi
(“Ianuzzi”). Pro se Plaintiff James John
Tisdale, IV (“Tisdale”), who is presently
incarcerated at the Lackawanna County Prison, has neither
filed a response to the motion nor requested an extension of
time to do so. Accordingly, because the time to respond has
expired, the motion to dismiss is ripe for disposition.
Although Tisdale has not opposed the motion to dismiss, the
Court concludes for the following reasons that his complaint
survives dismissal. Thus, the Court will deny Defendants'
motion to dismiss.
initiated the above-captioned action on June 17, 2019 by
filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants Dr. Zaloga, Ianuzzi, and Correctional Care Inc.
(“CCI”). (Doc. No. 1.) Tisdale alleges that CCI
is owned by Dr. Zaloga and has a contract to provide medical
care to inmates housed at the Lackawanna County Prison. (Doc.
No. 1 at 13.) In August of 2018, Tisdale began to lose
feeling “in the lower half of [his] body and
extremities making it almost impossible to walk or even
shower.” (Id.) He submitted a sick call
request on August 9, 2018. (Id.) Three (3) days
later, he was called to medical to see Ianuzzi.
(Id.) According to Tisdale, Ianuzzi stated that
Tisdale “wasn't numb because [he] walked in there
but provided no treatment.” (Id.) Tisdale
alleges that he experienced “constant loss of balance
and falling, ” as well as uncontrolled movements of his
mouth and tongue. (Id. at 14.) He maintains that
these symptoms were caused by the level of Dilantin in his
blood “due to not being monitored by medical e.g. Dr.
Edward Zaloga.” (Id. at 15.) Tisdale maintains
that on October 4, 2018, he fell in a hallway and was taken
to medical, where a nurse told the corrections officers
accompanying Tisdale that he “was fine” and just
needed to lie down. (Id.) He suggests that
Defendants failed to refer him to a neurologist or other
testing. (Id. at 13, 16.) Tisdale seeks $50, 000.00
in damages as relief. (Id. at 17.)
Memorandum and Order dated June 25, 2019, the Court granted
Tisdale leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
dismissed his Eighth Amendment claims against CCI without
prejudice, and granted him leave to file an amended complaint
within thirty (30) days. (Doc. Nos. 7, 8.) The Court advised
Tisdale that if he did not file an amended complaint, the
Court would direct service of his original complaint upon
Defendants Dr. Zaloga and Ianuzzi. (Doc. No. 8.) Tisdale did
not file an amended complaint. Accordingly, on July 30, 2019,
the Court dismissed CCI and directed the Clerk of Court to
effect service of Tisdale's complaint upon Defendants Dr.
Zaloga and Ianuzzi. (Doc. No. 10.)
Dr. Zaloga and Ianuzzi returned waivers of service on
September 4, 2019. (Doc. No. 16.) Accordingly, their answers
or other responses to the complaint were due on or before
September 30, 2019. In an Order dated October 4, 2019, the
Court observed that Defendants Dr. Zaloga and Ianuzzi had not
filed a response to the complaint and directed them to show
cause within seven (7) days why Tisdale should not request
the entry of default and default judgment pursuant to Rule 55
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 20.)
Defendants Dr. Zaloga and Ianuzzi filed their response that
same day, requesting a short extension of time to respond to
the complaint. (Doc. No. 21.) In an Order dated October 7,
2019, the Court granted Defendants' request for an
extension and directed them to respond to the complaint
within seven (7) days. (Doc. No. 22.) Defendants subsequently
filed their motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 23) and brief in
support (Doc. No. 24).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Motion to Dismiss, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint
and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them,
viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See
In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314
(3d Cir. 2010). The Court's inquiry is guided by the
standards of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009). Under Twombly and Iqbal, pleading
requirements have shifted to a “more heightened form of
pleading.” See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). To prevent dismissal, all civil
complaints must set out “sufficient factual
matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible.
Id. The plausibility standard requires more than a
mere possibility that the defendant is liable for the alleged
misconduct. As the Supreme Court instructed in
Iqbal, “where the well-pleaded facts do not
permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not
‘show[n]' - ‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing
to determine the sufficiency of a complaint under
Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit has identified the following
steps a district court must take when determining the
sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6): (1) identify
the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2)
identify any conclusory allegations contained in the
complaint “not entitled” to the assumption of
truth; and (3) determine whether any “well-pleaded
factual allegations” contained in the complaint
“plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629
F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation marks
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, “a court must consider only the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of
public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if
the complainant's claims are based upon these
documents.” Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223,
230 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.
1993)). A court may also consider “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) (quoting 5B Charles A. Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357 (3d Ed.
2004)); see also Pryor v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic
Ass'n, 288 F.3d 548, 560 (3d Cir. 2002) (noting that
when considering a motion to dismiss, courts may consider
“documents whose contents are alleged in the complaint
and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not
physically attached to the pleading”).
context of pro se prisoner litigation specifically,
the court must be mindful that a document filed pro
se is “to be liberally construed.”
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A
pro se complaint, “however inartfully pleaded,
” must be held to “less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers” and can only be
dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond a
doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support
of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Civil Rights Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983
1983 is the vehicle by which private citizens may seek
redress for violations of federal constitutional rights
committed by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. ...