United States District Court, D. Delaware
J. Cline, Esq., PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, Wilmington, DE;
Christopher B. Chuff, Esq., PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, Wilmington,
DE; Laurence Z. Sheikman, Esq., PEPPER HAMILTON LLP,
Philadelphia, PA; Renee C. Manson, Esq., PEPPER HAMILTON LLP,
Philadelphia, PA; Craig G. Steen, Esq., PEPPER HAMILTON LLP,
Philadelphia, PA. Attorneys for Plaintiff
Spring Monzo, Esq., WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP, Wilmington, DE;
Randall S. MacTough, Esq., WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP,
Wilmington, DE. Attorneys for Defendant Connections Community
Support Programs, Inc.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE:
before the Court is Defendant Connections Community Support
Programs' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim.
(D.I. 28). The motion has been fully briefed (D.I. 29, 35
& 41). For the reasons set forth herein, the
Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff is granted
leave to file a Third Amended Complaint.
Abdul-Haqq Shabazz filed his complaint pro se on
June 30, 2016. (D.I. 2). After being appointed counsel,
Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on April 7, 2017
(D.I. 22) and a Second Amended Complaint on May 12, 2017
(D.I. 27). The Second Amended Complaint alleges that
Defendant Connections Community Support Programs, Inc.
violated the Eighth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that
Defendant, a medical contractor for the Delaware Department
of Corrections ("DDOC"), has been deliberately
indifferent to Plaintiffs serious medical needs by denying
treatment for Plaintiffs glaucoma, not providing Plaintiff
with adequate eyeglasses or orthopaedic shoes, and not
providing information about Plaintiffs medications as it
relates to individuals with glaucoma and cataracts. (D.I. 27,
allegations lack sufficient detail about a particular policy,
practice, or custom maintained by Defendant that caused
Plaintiffs injury. Plaintiffs allegations do not support a
constitutional claim against Defendant Connections.
reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the
complaint's factual allegations as true. See BellAtl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Rule 8(a)
requires "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
Id. at 555. The factual allegations do not have to
be detailed, but they must provide more than labels,
conclusions, or a "formulaic recitation" of the
claim elements. Id. ("Factual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the
complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).").
Moreover, there must be sufficient factual matter to state a
facially plausible claim to relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The facial plausibility
standard is satisfied when the complaint's factual
content "allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. ("Where a complaint pleads
facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's
liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility of entitlement to relief"). Finally, the
Supreme Court has stated that a "threadbare recital of
the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, " is not enough for the court to
accept those allegations as true. Id.
alleges two theories against Defendant. First, Plaintiff
contends that Defendant Connections has "refus[ed] to
provide [Plaintiff] with any form of meaningful treatment,
constituting] deliberate indifference to [Plaintiffs] known
and objectively serious medical needs, thereby violating his
Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual
punishment." (D.I. 27, ¶ 79). Second, Plaintiff
argues that Defendant Connections has "implemented an
institutional policy, custom and/or practice under which
[Plaintiff] has been knowingly and continuously deprived of
necessary and appropriate treatment for his serious medical
needs...evidenced by the continued denial of minimally
adequate care to [Plaintiff] over the course of more than a
decade, despite repeated requests for treatment from
[Plaintiff] and his doctors." (Id. at¶2).
maintains that Defendant, "at all times relevant to
[the] complaint, " has acted under color of state law
through the contract with the DDOC. (Id. at ¶
12). The majority of Plaintiffs complaint focuses on the
years between 2000 and early 2014. (Id. at
¶¶ 13-46). However, Defendant's contract with
the DDOC did not go into effect until June 1, 2014.
(Id. at ¶ 47). While the Plaintiff has a long
history with the DDOC, most of the alleged mistreatment,
including the several unsuccessful surgeries claimed by
Plaintiff, occurred before Defendant became the medical care
contractor for the DDOC. (Id. at ¶¶
Supreme Court has held that "deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the
'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain'
proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). However, not
"every claim by a prisoner that he has not received
adequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth
Amendment." Id. at 105. Furthermore, a
"mere disagreement" with the form of treatment is
not sufficient to state a claim for deliberate indifference
to a serious medical need. Pearson v. Prison Health
Servs., 850 F.3d 526, 535 (3d Cir. 2017).
Plaintiff refers to several examples of his alleged
mistreatment, including not being provided with
glare-resistant eyeglasses, orthopaedic shoes to help with
imbalance problems, or information about his medications as
it relates to individuals with glaucoma and cataracts. (D.I.
27, ¶¶ 53(a)-(c)). Defendant argues that these
examples amount to "dispute[s] over the adequacy of the
care." (D.I. 29, p.8). Additionally, Defendant contends
that these instances do not rise to a constitutional claim
and these allegations, including the "lack of informed
consent" about his medications, arise under state tort
law, if anything. (Id. at pp. 8-9). Plaintiffs
allegations point to ...