United States District Court, D. Delaware
plaintiff Isaiah Jamaal Fields ("Fields"), an
inmate at the Sussex Correctional Institution
("SCI"), appears pro se and was granted
permission to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 6.)
Fields filed this lawsuit alleging violations of his civil
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.L 1.) Before
the court is a motion to dismiss filed July 25, 2017 by the
defendant Connections Community Support Programs Inc.
("Connections") and Fields' opposition. (D.I.
25.) Fields also requests counsel. (D.L 38.)
raises medical needs claims. Upon screening, all the
defendants were dismissed with the exception of Connections
and nurse practitioner Louise Ryan ("Ryan). Connections
moves for dismissal on the grounds that the complaint fails
to allege that it maintained a policy, practice, or custom
that caused the alleged inadequate treatment of Fields'
STANDARDS OF LAW
reviewing a motion filed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the
court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as
true and take them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Because Fields proceeds pro se, his pleading
is liberally construed and his complaint, "however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94. A court may consider the
pleadings, public record, orders, exhibits attached to the
complaint, and documents incorporated into the complaint by
reference. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights,
Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion
maybe granted only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations
in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most
favorable to the complainant, a court concludes that those
allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to
relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 558 (2007).
'detailed factual allegations' are not required, a
complaint must do more than simply provide 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.'" Davis v.
Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir.
2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The court
is "not required to credit bald assertions or legal
conclusions improperly alleged in the complaint." In
re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d
198, 216 (3d Cir. 2002). A complaint may not be dismissed,
however, "for imperfect statement of the legal theory
supporting the claim asserted." Johnson v.
City of Shelby, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346
complaint must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim
has "substantive plausibility." Id. at
347. That plausibility must be found on the face of the
complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the
[complainant] pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the [accused] is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. Deciding
whether a claim is plausible will be a "context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense." Id. at
plaintiff relies upon a theory of respondeat superior to/hold
a corporation liable, he must allege a policy or custom that
demonstrates such deliberate indifference. Sample v.
Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1110 (3d Cir. \9S9); Miller
v. Correctional Med. Sys., Inc., 802 F.Supp. 1126, 1132
(D. Del. 1992). To establish that Connections is directly
liable for the alleged constitutional violations, Fields
"must provide evidence that there was a relevant
[Connections] policy or custom, and that the policy caused
the constitutional violation[s] [plaintiff] allege[s]."
Natale v. Camden Cty. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 584
(3d Cir. 2003) (because respondeat superior or vicarious
liability cannot be a basis for liability under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, a corporation under contract with the state
cannot be held liable for the acts of its employees and
agents under those theories). Assuming the acts of an
Connections' employee have violated a person's
constitutional rights, those acts may be deemed the result of
a policy or custom of the entity for whom the employee works,
thereby rendering the entity liable under § 1983, where
the inadequacy of existing practice is so likely to result in
the violation of constitutional rights that the policymaker
can reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent
to the need. See Natale, 318 F.3d at 584 (citations
is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final authority to
establish ... policy with respect to the action issues an
official proclamation, policy or edict.'" Miller
v. Corr. Med. Sys., Inc., 802 F.Supp. at 1132
(alteration in original) (quoting Andrews v. City of
Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1480 (3d Cir. 1990)).
"Custom, on the other hand, can be proven by showing
that a given course of conduct, although not specifically
endorsed or authorized by law, is so well-settled and
permanent as virtually to constitute law." Id.
(citing Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1480; Fletcher v.
O'Donnell, 867 F.2d 791, 793-94 (3d Cir. 1989)).
noted above, Connections argues dismissal is appropriate
because Fields has not pled facts sufficient to demonstrate
it has a deficient policy or procedure. As is
well-established, the legal standard when ruling on Rule
12(b)(6) motions is identical to the standard used when
screening a complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). See Tourscher v. McCullough, 184
F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999) (applying Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
standard to dismissal for failure to state a claim under
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)). The court previously reviewed
Fields's allegations and found that he stated what appear
to be cognizable and non-frivolous claims. (See D.I.
17, 18.) Nothing has changed since that ruling. Nonetheless,
the court has revisited the allegations, liberally construed
them, as it must, and finds that Fields adequately raises
medical needs claims under the Eighth Amendment.
allegations are that Fields injured his ankle/foot on
February 1, 2016, and was sent to medical and given
medication and ice for the ankle. Fields had severe pain. He
presented for his chronic care appointment on February 4,
2016, and was seen by Ryan, and told her that he had pain and
a burning sensation in his foot/ankle traveling up his calf.
Ryan conducted the normal chronic care examination and sent
Fields back to his tier, apparently without providing
treatment for the ankle/foot condition.
continued to have pain and submitted sick call slips and
medical grievances to receive medical care. He also wrote to
prison personnel regarding his severe pain and discomfort.
Fields was then provided a brace and pain medication for 30
days, but there has been no follow-up. Fields alleges that
the brace has caused his condition to worsen and makes his
ankle/foot burn even more. He ...