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Griffin v. Betancourt

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 8, 2019

SETH BETANCOURT, et al., Defendants.


          GENE E.K. PRATTER, J.

         This matter comes before the Court by way of a complaint (ECF No. 2), brought by Plaintiff Lamar A. Griffin, proceeding pro se. His Complaint raises claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his need for medical treatment for injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle collision. Also before the Court is Mr. Griffin's Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Prisoner Trust Fund Account Statement (ECF Nos. 5 & 6). Because it appears that Mr. Griffin is unable to afford to pay the filing fee, the Court will grant him leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Mr. Griffin's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), for failure to state a claim with the exception of his claims against one defendant. Mr. Griffin will be permitted to file an amended complaint in the event he can cure the defects in his dismissed claims.

         I. FACTS[1]

         Mr. Griffin named two defendants in the caption of the Complaint-Seth Betancourt (identified as a State Police Trooper) and the George W. Hill Correctional Facility ("GWHCF"). On the second page of the Complaint, Mr. Griffin added four different defendants-Jeff Mr. Withelder (identified as a nurse), Dr. Phillips, Nurse Shelly, and Mariel Trimble (also identified as a nurse). The Court will consider all of these individuals and entities to constitute the Defendants in this case for purposes of this Memorandum. Mr. Griffin's claims concern the Defendants' alleged failure to treat injuries he sustained in a vehicular collision shortly before he was arrested and incarcerated.

         Mr. Griffin alleges that on March 19, 2019, he lost consciousness while driving and struck several vehicles and signs before coming to a stop. It appears that he was traveling at a speed of 120 miles per hour. Mr. Griffin "hit [his] head on the windshield and was totally delirious." (Compl. ECF No. 2 at 3.)[2] Defendant Betancourt arrested Mr. Griffin, transported him to the police barracks for processing, and thereafter transported him to GWHCF.[3] Mr. Griffin alleges that Trooper Betancourt failed to transport him to a hospital or provide him with medical attention.

         When he arrived at GWHCF, Mr. Griffin lost consciousness and collapsed four times. He was housed in the infirmary for three weeks under observation. (Id. at 3 & 6.) He also fell unconscious on the day he was released into general population. (Id. at 6.) Mr. Mr. Griffin alleges that he wrote request slips complaining of headaches and seeking an MRI or CAT scan. The gist of his claims is that personnel at GWHCF have failed to provide adequate treatment for his head injury.

         In support of his claims, Mr. Griffin attached to the Complaint a log on which he recorded events since his admission to GWHCF, noting dates when he suffered symptoms, when he received medication or other treatment, and when he did not receive treatment. (Id. at 10-16.) The day after his admission to GWHCF, he recorded that blood work was done and he was given an EKG. (Id. at 10.) He states that he almost passed out on March 29, 2019 and April 2, 2019 and was housed in the infirmary but claims he was not given additional medical treatment on those occasions. (Id.)

         On April 3, 2019, Defendant Withelder allegedly told him that he was "post-concussive" and represented that Mr. Griffin had been diagnosed with a concussion at Crozer Chester Medical Center and discharged on the date of the collision (although Mr. Griffin disputes that he was ever admitted to that hospital). (Id. at 3 & 10.) Mr. Withelder also informed Mr. Griffin that his ears "were heavily wax impacted" and noted that he was without his eye glasses, which may have contributed to him passing out. (Id. at 10.) It appears Mr. Withelder ordered two extra strength Tylenol tablets for Mr. Griffin at that time. (Id.) Mr. Griffin passed out again the next day; additional blood work was ordered and he was given two extra strength Tylenol tablets. (Id.) In early April, Mr. Griffin was regularly given Tylenol, his left ear was flushed, and he was given a course of antibiotics for his ear and tooth. (Id. at 10-11.)

         Mr. Griffin's medication was discontinued on April 23, 2019. (Id.) He submitted a sick call slip and saw Mr. Withelder on April 25, 2019, who prescribed more Tylenol when Mr. Griffin complained of migraines. (Id. at 11.) Mr. Griffin did not initially receive that medication, so he submitted a sick call slip, which led to him receiving the medication on May 2, 2019. (Id. at 11-12.) Otherwise, he intermittently received medication in May according to his log. Mr. Griffin suggests that Nurse Shelly denied him medication for migraine headaches from May 30, 2019 through June 7, 2019 by virtue of a log entry stating "no meds/migraine headache - refused Tylenol by Nurse Shelly." (Id. at 12.) Mr. Griffin also did not regularly receive medication for the rest of June and July, but it is not clear what his symptoms were at that time and who he claims was responsible for the denial, if any, of medication during that time.

         Mr. Griffin alleges that on August 4, 2019, he complained of migraine headaches and spotted vision. (Id. at 14.) He also made a notation for August 5, 2019 through August 14, 2019 stating "no follow up from Nurse Shelly." (Id.) It is not clear if Nurse Shelly is the nurse with whom he spoke on August 4. In the middle of August, Mr. Griffin was treated for constipation.

         On August 28, 2019, Mr. Griffin saw Mr. Withelder for headaches, dizziness, and blotchy vision. (Id. at 15.) Mr. Withelder "put in for ibuprofen and [for Mr. Griffin] to see Dr. Phillips soon." (Id.) The next day, Mr. Griffin received three ibuprofen and saw Dr. Phillips, who "put in for [him] to see [a] neurologist, x-rays for head and neck and eye doctor." (Id.) It appears Mr. Griffin received the x-ray of his head and neck on September 5, 2019, and saw the eye doctor on September 6, 2019, but was still awaiting his appointment with the neurologist at the time he filed his Complaint. (Id. at 3 & 15.) Mr. Griffin's log indicates that he did not receive medication or see medical personnel from September 7, 2019 through October 1, 2019, and notes that he experienced headaches in mid-September. (Id. at 15.) He saw Dr. Phillips again on October 2, 2019 and was diagnosed with arthritis in his neck. (Id. at 16.) On October 3, 2019, he signed his Complaint in this case and delivered it to prison authorities for mailing. (Id. at 7-8.)

         Mr. Griffin alleges that he has not received adequate treatment for his head injury. Specifically, he claims that he has not been "given a thorough head examination" since his admission to GWHCF and that when he complains of headaches he is "charged [a] $5.00 medical fee and prescribed ibuprofen/Tylenol for 2/3 days and [he's] on [his] own."[4] (Id. at 3.) Mr. Griffin contends that he continues to suffer from migraine headaches, light-headedness and dizziness, still loses consciousness at times, and cannot stand for more than twenty minutes at a time. (Id. at 3 & 10.). He asserts that he has not received any "outside medical attention ~ only inept medical attention from George W. Hill." (Id. at 3.) He was also told that he must wait at least one year to see an "outside doctor" and that his headaches are getting worse. (Id. at 5.) For relief in this civil action, Mr. Griffin asks to see an "outside doctor" and seeks money damages. (Id.)

         Mr. Griffin subsequently filed exhibits in support of his Complaint. (ECF No. 7.) That submission indicates that in April and May of 2019, Mr. Griffin filed requests for information and grievances about treatment for his injuries including a request to see a doctor outside GWHCF.

         II. ...

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