WINN v. PHILADELPHIA PRISON SYSTEMS et al
MEMORANDUM/OPINION THAT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS IS GRANTED. WINN'S COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED BECAUSE IT FAILS TO STATE A CLAIM, AND HE SHALL HAVE UNTIL 3/1/17 TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR ON 2/1/17. 2/3/17 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE'. (ky, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
PHILADELPHIA PRISON SYSTEMS;
STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
CORRECTIONAL CARE SOLUTIONS; and
DR. JOHNSON, Willis Eye Institute (Phila),
Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Proceed En [sic] Forma Pauperis, ECF No. 1 – Granted
Complaint Dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.
United States District Judge
February 1, 2017
Plaintiff Jermaine Winn, a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution at Pine Grove,
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on treatment he received for an eye
condition during his incarceration. He seeks permission to proceed in forma pauperis, which is
granted, but his complaint will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) because it
fails to state a claim for relief.
Winn alleges that he was arrested on or about October 16, 2012, and imprisoned at the
Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia. During his intake screening, he informed
the staff that he suffered from glaucoma and cataracts in his left eye. Medical staff referred him
to the facility’s optometrist, who concluded that he required treatment from a specialist. Winn
was subsequently referred to Will’s Eye Institute, where Dr. Johnson operated on his left eye.
Winn was subsequently sentenced to a term of incarceration, and officials with the
Philadelphia Prison System medically cleared him to be transferred to the State Correctional
Institution at Graterford. At the time, he had stitches in his left eye and required follow-up care.
The State Correctional Institution at Graterford took custody of Winn and his medical
records, which described the nature of his medical condition. Winn also personally informed the
staff at Graterford of his condition. He was then “medically cleared to be transferred once again
to another facility of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.” Compl. 3, ECF No. 1-1.
Winn initiated this suit in October of 2016 against the Philadelphia Prison System, the
State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Dr. Johnson, and Correctional Care Solutions, which
is identified as a corporation that contracts with the Department of Corrections. 1 He seeks
compensatory damages for medical care required while he is incarcerated.
Standard of Review
The Court is granting Winn leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears he is
incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. 2 That means that 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if
it fails to state a claim. To survive dismissal, “a complaint must contain 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) (internal quotations omitted). As Winn is proceeding pro se, his allegations
are liberally construed. Higgs v. Att’y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
The Court understands Winn to be claiming that the defendants violated his rights
because of the way that they addressed his medical needs. “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).
Winn cannot state a § 1983 claim against the State Correctional Institution at Graterford,
because Graterford shares in the Commonwealth’s Eleventh Amendment immunity and, in any
event, is not a “person” for purposes of § 1983. 3 See Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 66-69 (1989); Dickerson v. SCI Graterford, 453 F. App’x 134, 137 (3d Cir. 2011) (per
curiam). He also cannot state a claim against the Philadelphia Prison System because the System
“is a municipal agency of the City of Philadelphia and, as such, has no separate existence of its
own and is not subject to suit.” Baylor v. Phila. Prison Sys., No. 10-cv-1468, 2010 WL
3191803, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2010); see also 53 Pa. Stat. § 16257. Accordingly, Winn’s
claims against these two defendants are dismissed with prejudice.
The Eighth Amendment governs claims brought by convicted inmates challenging their
conditions of confinement, while claims brought by pretrial detainees are governed by the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Hubbard v. Taylor, 399 F.3d 150, 165-66 (3d
On the second page of his complaint, Winn appears to identify Will’s Eye Institute and the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections as possible additional defendants. However, he did not name those entities as defendants
in the caption of his complaint as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a).
As he is a prisoner, Winn must still pay the $350 filing fee in installments in accordance with the Prison
Litigation Reform Act. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).
The same is true for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to the extent Winn sought to raise any
claims against it. See supra note 1; Lavia v. Pa. Dep’t of Corr., 224 F.3d 190, 195 (3d Cir. 2000).
Cir. 2005). Winn’s claims appear to span the time that he was a pre-trial detainee as well as his
post-conviction incarceration. Under the Eighth Amendment, 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). The same standard generally applies to claims
raised by pretrial detainees based on inadequate medical care. See, e.g., Edwards v. Northampton
Cty., No. 16-2601, 2016 WL 6156005, at *2 (3d Cir. Oct. 24, 2016); Brown v. Deparlos, 492 F.
App’x 211, 214 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam).
A prison official is not deliberately indifferent “unless the official knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety,” which means that “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.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Allegations of general
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).
Nothing in the complaint suggests that Dr. Johnson or anyone else was deliberately
indifferent to Winn’s medical needs. He alleges that prison officials referred him to Dr. Johnson
for treatment, that Dr. Johnson performed surgery on him to treat his condition, and that he was
medically cleared for a transfer after he was sentenced in his criminal case. Nothing in the
complaint suggests that Dr. Johnson or others disregarded his medical issues. To the contrary,
the complaint as pleaded suggests that Winn received the care that he needed. Accordingly, he
has not stated a claim against Dr. Johnson. 4
Nor has he stated a claim against Correctional Care Solutions. To state a § 1983 claim
against a corporation that contracts with a municipality, a plaintiff must allege that the
contractor’s policies or customs caused the violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
See Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); Natale v. Camden Cty.
Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 583-84 (3d Cir. 2003). As already observed, Winn’s allegations do
not establish that anyone acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs or
otherwise violated any of his constitutional rights. But even assuming that he had pleaded a
viable constitutional violation, he has not identified a policy or custom of Correctional Care
Solutions that would establish a basis to hold it liable.
Winn’s complaint is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) because it fails
to state a claim. While his claims against the Philadelphia Prison System and the State
Correctional Institution Graterford are dismissed with prejudice, his remaining claims are
As the complaint does not state a claim against Dr. Johnson, any claims against Will’s Eye Institute based
on its status as Dr. Johnson’s employer would also fail.
dismissed without prejudice to Winn’s ability to file an amended complaint if he is able to state a
plausible basis for a timely claim against the other defendants. 5 An appropriate order follows.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.____________
JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR.
United States District Judge
It appears that at least some portion of Winn’s claims is time-barred. The statute of limitations governing
his claims is two years, Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007); see also 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524, and the
limitations period begins to run from the time “the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon which
[his] action is based.” Sameric Corp. of Del., Inc. v. City of Phila., 142 F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1998). It appears
from the complaint that Winn’s claims are based on events dating back to October of 2012, approximately four years
before the complaint was filed.
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