TORRES v. PRIME CARE MED INC. et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION SIGNED BY HONORABLE EDMUND V. LUDWIG ON 9/24/12. 9/24/12 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE PETITIONER AND E-MAILED. (jpd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
PRIME CARE MED, INC., et al.
September 21st, 2012
This is a prisoner civil rights case. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Jurisdiction is
federal question. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff Robinson Torres, pro se, an
inmate at Northampton County Prison, filed a complaint alleging that
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by providing inadequate
medical care for an infection and not placing plaintiff in isolation following
diagnosis of the infection. Defendants1 move for dismissal under Fed. R.
Civ P. 12(b)(6). The motion will be granted. 2
According to the complaint, on April 4, 2012, plaintiff advised
Defendants are Northampton County and Warden Todd L. Buskirk, and Dr. Victoria
Gessner, Jennifer Mroz and PrimeCare Medical, Inc. PrimeCare is an outside company retained
by Northampton County to provide medical care to inmates. Defendants’ memorandum, p.2
(docket no. 21).
In deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must accept “all well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences” in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Birdman v. Office of the Governor, 677 F.3d 167, 171 (3d Cir. 2012). In order to survive
a motion, a complaint must provide fair notice to the defendant of what the claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests, and must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim that is
plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
PrimeCare staff that he had what he believed to be a staph infection on his
face. Complaint, at 2. Dr. Gessner examined plaintiff, treated him with
antibiotics, and returned him to his cell rather than isolating him. Id.;
response to grievance, Exhibit B to complaint.3 The complaint alleges that
plaintiff contracted MRSA because he was not isolated, and the failure to
isolate him constituted deliberate indifference to his serious medical
condition. Complaint, at 2. On April 6, 2012, plaintiff reported that the
infection was worse and was taken by prison staff for further examination
and treatment. He was examined, his antibiotics were increased, and he
was isolated at that time. Complaint, p.2; Exhibit B to complaint. The
complaint alleges that plaintiff’s treatment constituted medical malpractice
and a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, and negligent hiring on the
part of the prison.
In order to state an Eighth Amendment claim for inadequate medical
care, plaintiff “must point to evidence that demonstrates both (1) a serious
medical need, and (2) acts or omissions by prison officials that indicate
deliberate indifference to that need.” Walker v. Walsh, 2012 WL 314883,
at *2 (M.D. Pa., filed Feb. 1, 2012), citing Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192,
197 (3d Cir. 1999). As to prison officials, deliberate indifference requires “a
The Grievance Form and response are attached to the complaint.
showing that the official was subjectively aware” of an excessive risk to
plaintiff’s health and safety, and disregarded that risk. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 829 (1994). As to the liability of prison doctors and medical
personnel, “[n]either negligent treatment nor the mere disagreement as to
the proper course of treatment is sufficient to establish a constitutional
violation.” Walker, 2012 WL 314883, at *2, citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976). “While deliberate indifference may be demonstrated
by an intentional denial or delay of medical care, where a prisoner has
received some medical care and alleges mistreatment because of a dispute
over the adequacy of that care, the courts should be ‘reluctant to second
guess medical judgments and to constituionalize claims which sound in
state tort law.’” Warren v. Boggio, 2012 WL 3114691, at *4 (E.D. Pa., filed
Jul. 31, 2012), quoting United States ex rel. Walker v. Fayette Cty., 599
F.2d 573, 575 n.2 (3d Cir. 1979).
Here, the allegations in the complaint and its attachments establish
that plaintiff received prompt medical care upon request: he was treated
with antibiotics upon presenting with a staph infection. Two days later,
when he complained that the treatment was not working, the dose was
increased and he was isolated and checked daily until he recovered. The
gist of his complaint - that he was not immediately isolated from the general
prison population - represents plaintiff’s disagreement with the course of
treatment pursued by medical professionals and, as such, it is not a basis
for an Eighth Amendment claim.
Accordingly, his complaint must be
BY THE COURT:
/s/Edmund V. Ludwig
Edmund V. Ludwig, J.
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