United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Cynthia Reed Eddy Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
Shawn Whitenight, brings this civil rights case against a 28
named defendants and a number of Jane/John Doe Defendants
claiming his civil rights were violated during his
incarceration at SCI-Greene. In response to Defendants'
motions to dismiss, Whitenight filed an Amended Complaint,
which remains the operative pleading. (ECF No. 110). The
defendants are the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
(“DOC”), and individuals and entities employed by
the DOC, including the Secretary of the DOC, the
Superintendent, grievance coordinators, physicians and
medical staff, a physical therapist, the Director of the
Bureau of Healthcare Services, and several unnamed
individuals. Whitenight asserts that he was denied adequate
medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the
United States Constitution, that he was retaliated against
for speaking out about his inadequate medical treatment in
violation of the First Amendment, and that his Due Process
rights were violated when he was placed in administrative
custody for 33 days in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
He also brings multiple state law claims sounding in medical
malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress,
negligent infliction of emotional distress, and corporate
Defendants have filed motions to dismiss contending that
Whitenight's constitutional claims are without merit
because the facts set forth in his Amended Complaint
affirmatively reveal that he did receive adequate medical
care and that the Amended Complaint does not sufficiently
allege a claim for First Amendment retaliation or a due
process violation. See ECF Nos. 133, 139, 153, and
Whitenight has responded in opposition to each motion. (ECF
Nos. 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 165, 166, 167, 190, 191, and
192). Defendants Santos and Kushner filed Reply Briefs (ECF
Nos. 179 and 194, respectively), to which Whitenight filed a
Sur-Replies. (ECF No. 186 and 195). The motions are fully
briefed and ripe for disposition. For the reasons that
follow, the motions will be granted to the extent that all
federal claims will be dismissed with prejudice and any state
law claims will be dismissed without prejudice for want of
outset, the Court notes that the Amended Complaint contains
over 360 paragraphs and is a running narrative of the medical
care, or lack thereof, that Whitenight received during an
approximately 18-month period at SCI-Greene. The Amended
Complaint incorporates and references over 300 pages of
exhibits which Whitenight filed with his original complaint.
Consistent with the Court of Appeals' directive in
Garrett v. Wexford Health, 938 F.3d 69 (3d Cir.
2019), the Court has carefully examined the allegations of
the Amended Complaint.
was arrested on December 17, 2013, and he claims that during
his arrest he was a "victim of excessive force
retaliation" by the arresting Pennsylvania State
Troopers. Amended Complaint, ¶38. He claims that this
alleged "excessive force" caused injuries to his
cervical and lumbar spine. Id. He does not claim
that any of the named Defendants, who saw him when he was at
SCI-Greene, caused his injuries. In his summary and
“index” of claims, Whitenight stresses that the
claims of his Amended Complaint are about “denials and
delays to provide the correct, adequate medical care.”
(ECF 115, p. 1 and ECF 110, ¶41).
applicable inquiry under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) is well settled. A court may dismiss all or part of
an action for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
complaint must plead “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). The
plaintiff must allege facts that indicate “more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. Pleading only “facts
that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's
liability” is insufficient and cannot survive a motion
to dismiss. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
conclusory recitation of the elements of a cause of action is
not sufficient. Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). The plaintiff must allege facts
necessary to make out each element. Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8). In other words, the
complaint must contain facts which, if proven later, support
a conclusion that the cause of action can be established. In
assessing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must: (1)
identify the elements of the causes of action; (2) disregard
conclusory statements, leaving only factual allegations; and
(3) assuming the truth of those factual allegations,
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief. Palakovic v. Wetzel, 854 F.3d 209, 220
(3d Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted) (quoting Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc.,
662 F.3d 212, 221 (3d Cir. 2011)).
generally consider the allegations of the complaint, attached
exhibits, and matters of public record in deciding motions to
dismiss. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol.
Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).
Factual allegations within documents described or identified
in the complaint also may be considered if the
plaintiff's claims are based upon those documents.
Id. (citations omitted). In addition, a district
court may consider indisputably authentic documents without
converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary
judgment. Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d
Cir. 2004); Lum v. Bank of America, 361 F.3d 217,
222 (3d Cir. 2004) (in resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally should consider
“the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to
the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that
form the basis of a claim.”).
The Amended Complaint Fails to State a Claim For
Deliberate Indifference in Violation of the Eighth
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits
the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments,
” U.S. Const. amend. VIII, and requires that prisoners
receive access to basic medical treatment. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Whitenight faces an
exacting burden in advancing his Eighth Amendment claim
against prison officials in their individual
capacities. To sustain such a claim, he must plead
[M]eet two requirements: (1) “the deprivation alleged
must be objectively, sufficiently serious;” and (2) the
“prison official must have a sufficiently culpable
state of mind.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994) (quotations
marks and citations omitted). In prison condition cases,
“that state of mind is one of ‘deliberate
indifference' to inmate health or safety.”
Id. “Deliberate indifference” is a
subjective standard under Farmer-the prison
official-defendant must actually have known or been aware of
the excessive risk to inmate safety.
Beers-Capitol v. Whetzel, 256 F.3d 120, 125 (3d Cir.
principles apply with particular force to Eighth Amendment
claims premised upon inadequate medical care. In the medical
context, a constitutional violation under the Eighth
Amendment occurs only when officials are deliberately
indifferent to an inmate's serious medical needs.
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105. To establish a violation
of a constitutional right to adequate medical care in
accordance with this standard, a prisoner is required to
point to evidence that demonstrates (1) a serious medical
need, and (2) acts or omissions by prison officials that
indicate deliberate indifference to that need. Rouse v.
Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999). Deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need involves the
“unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104. Such indifference may be
evidenced by an intentional refusal to provide care, delayed
provision of medical treatment for non-medical reasons,
denial of prescribed medical treatment, denial of reasonable
requests for treatment that results in suffering or risk of
injury, Durmer v. O'Carroll, 991 F.2d 64, 68 (3d
Cir. 1993), or “persistent conduct in the face of
resultant pain and risk of permanent injury.” White
v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 109 (3d Cir. 1990).
it is also clear that the mere misdiagnosis of a condition or
medical need, or negligent treatment provided for a
condition, is not actionable as an Eighth Amendment claim
because medical malpractice is not a constitutional
violation. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. “Indeed,
prison authorities are accorded considerable latitude in the
diagnosis and treatment of prisoners.” Durmer,
991 F.2d at 67 (citations omitted). Furthermore, in a prison
medical context, deliberate indifference is generally not
found when some significant level of medical care has been
offered to the inmate. Thus, such complaints fail as
constitutional claims under § 1983 since “the
exercise by a doctor of his professional judgment is never
deliberate indifference. See e.g., Brown v. Borough of
Chambersburg, 903 F.2d 274, 278 (3d Cir. 1990)
(‘[A]s long as a physician exercises professional
judgment his behavior will not violate a prisoner's
Claims Against the DOC Defendants Relating to
Whitenight's Back Pain
generally accuses the DOC Defendants of not agreeing with him
when he complained about his medical care and/or not
overriding the medical and clinical judgment of his doctors.
In fact, most of the claims against the DOC defendants
concern their failure to respond “appropriately”
to letters, requests, or grievances where Whitenight
complained about the scope, timing, and medical judgment of
his doctors, and/or the medical staff's handling of
medical records or consultations. See Amended
Complaint, Counts 1, 3-9, 11, 52-55, 66-67, 69-70, 73, 77-83,
86-87. (ECF No. 110).
Defendants argue that Whitenight has failed to state a claim
against them as they did not have personal involvement in the
treatment or alleged delay of Whitenight's medical
treatment. The Court agrees with the DOC Defendants and finds
that Whitenight's allegations against them cannot ...