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Joyner v. Harewood

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 4, 2019

RAMON A. JOYNER, Plaintiff,
ADRIAN HAREWOOD, et al., Defendants.

          Ramon A. Joyner, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware; Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Roopa Sabesan, Esquire, White and Williams, Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Defendants.



         Plaintiff Ramon A. Joyner ("Plaintiff'), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("JTVCC") in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] He proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 5) The Court screened the Complaint on July 2, 2018 and identified cognizable and non-frivolous clams. (See D.I. 10) Defendants move for dismissal and Plaintiff opposes. (D.I. 20, 23, 27, 28) Plaintiff also seeks leave to amend and requests counsel. (D.I. 25) Briefing is complete.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was housed at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution ("HRYCI"), in Wilmington, Delaware, from February 2015 through November 2016. (D.I. 3 at ¶¶ 1, 4) Plaintiff became ill in late 2015, and received a chest x-ray. (Id. at ¶ 2) He was administered "TB [tuberculosis] tests" in February 2016 that were "all negative."[2] (Id.) Plaintiff was housed in the HRYCI infirmary and then released to population but he continued to have breathing issues, no appetite, and chills. (Id. at ¶ 3)

         In November 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to the JTVCC, where he explained his health issues to a nurse and was administered a TB test. (Id. at ¶ 4) Plaintiff showed Defendant Nurse Diane Kibuuka ("Kibuuka")[3] his arm because it was severely swollen and irritated from the TB test. (Id. at ¶ 5) Plaintiff alleges that Kibuuka told Plaintiff that "it was okay" and that Plaintiff "had nothing to worry about." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that in December 2016 an outbreak of TB occurred at the HRYCI where he had been housed. (Id. at ¶ 10)

         Plaintiff alleges that from November 2016 until April/May 2017, he "progressively got worse, chills, sweats, coughing, breathing issues, weight loss, and no appetite." (Id. at ¶ 6) Plaintiff alleges the was seen by Defendant Nurse Practitioner Carla Cooper ("Cooper") who did not detect that Plaintiff was "really sick." (Id. at ¶ 7) Plaintiff was also seen by Defendant Dr. Mazur ("Dr. Mazur"), and infectious disease doctor, who told Plaintiff that he had received an e-mail about Plaintiffs x-rays from a year ago and needed to do some tests." (Id. at ¶ 8) Plaintiff explained to Dr. Mazur the issue with his arm after the TB test. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Mazur told him it was nothing to worry about. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was getting worse and none of the treatments were working.[4] (Id. at ¶ 9)

         In April 2017, it was discovered that Plaintiff had no breath sounds on his right side. (Id. at ¶ 11) Plaintiff was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a collapsed right lung and a severe case of TB that had caused a hole in the right lung. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges his condition was due to lack of a timely diagnosis and treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff was hospitalized for three months. (Id. at ¶ 12) While hospitalized, his right lung was removed. (Id.) He was released to the prison infirmary and two months later underwent a second operation due to infection. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14)

         Plaintiff "does not understand why" Defendant Connections C.E.O. Matthew Wofford ("Wofford") "did not assure his medical staff are properly trained to notice, diagnosis, and treat the obvious symptoms of TB." (Id. at ¶ 15) Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Medical Administrator Adrian[5] Harewood ("Harewood") and questioned the training of the staff who "could not have [failed to] noticed what the medical issue was." (Id. at ¶ 16) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that nothing was done to properly diagnose or treat the progressive disease of TB. (Id. at ¶ 18) He seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

         Defendants[6] move to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to: (1) plausibly show how each medical defendant knew of but ignore substantial risk of harm to Plaintiff; and (2) plead allegations of Wofford's personal involvement. (D.I. 20, 28)


         In reviewing a motion to dismiss 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 Plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Because Plaintiff 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." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         "Though '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."' Daws 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, ...

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