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Campbell v. Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Health

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 11, 2018




         For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) grants the plaintiffs motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis; (2) orders that summonses issue as to three defendants; and (3) denies without prejudice the plaintiffs motion for the appointment of counsel.

         I. Background

         Scott Campbell, who is currently incarcerated at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, brings this action in under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983") and state law for allegedly inadequate medical treatment he received while an inmate at MCI Norfolk in 2015. According to the Amended Complaint, on May 11, 2015, Campbell became dizzy and fell down while walking on an outdoor track at MCI Norfolk. He experienced excessive vomiting while being transported to the Health Services Unit ("HSU"). At the HSU, he was examined by Nurse Byron Shumaker, who consulted by phone with Doctor Lawrence Churchville. Following Dr. Churchville's instructions, Nurse Shumaker treated Campbell for dehydration and administered an antiemetic drug. Campbell was placed in the "Assisted Daily Living Unit" without any further examination that day.

         The following day, Dr. Churchill examined Campbell, performed some balance tests, prescribed antibiotics for a possible ear infection, and ordered that Campbell stay in bed until the next day. Campbell spent the rest of the day falling out of bed and vomiting.

         On May 13, 2015, Dr. Churchville called for Campbell to be re-examined when he learned that Campbell was still unable to ambulate or balance. Campbell was sent to Norwood Hospital the same day, where the attending physician immediately recognized that Campbell's symptoms could indicate a brain injury. Campbell underwent an emergency MRI, which revealed severe bleeding the cerebral cortex as the result of a stroke, and possibly evidence of a second stroke that occurred while Campbell was in the HSU. Campbell spoke with a doctor who stated that the failure to treat Campbell's first stroke in a timely manner worsened his condition and resulted in the second stroke. The same day, Campbell was transferred to Boston Medical Center, where the diagnosis of the doctor at Norwood hospital was confirmed. As a result of the strokes, Campbell suffers injuries, including loss of vision in the right eye and vertigo.

         Campbell brings this action against the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Health (“MPCH”) and five of its employees: Thomas Groblewski, medical director of MPCH; Rebecca Lubelczyk, regional medical director of MPCH; Dr. Churchville; and Nurse Shumaker. He asserts against all defendants a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of his Eight Amendment right to adequate medical care and a state law claim for medical malpractice.

         Campbell also filed motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and for the appointment of counsel.

         II. Discussion

         A. Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Upon review of Campbell's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the accompanying prison account statement, the Court concludes that plaintiff lacks funds to prepay the filing fee. The Court therefore will grant the motion. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), the Court assesses an initial partial filing fee of $29.76. The remainder of the fee, $320.24, shall be collected in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         B. Screening of the Complaint

         When a plaintiff seeks to is allowed to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses do not issue until the Court reviews the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Similarly, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, prisoner complaints in civil actions that seek redress from a governmental entity or officers or employees of a governmental entity are subject to a preliminary screening. Both § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A authorize federal courts to dismiss a complaint sua sponte if the claims therein are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). In conducting this review, the Court liberally construes the complaint because the plaintiff is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

         Under Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a pleading must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This means that it needs to allege “enough detail to provide a defendant with ‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, '” Silverstrand Invs. v. AMAG Pharm., Inc.,707 F.3d 95, 101 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011)) (alteration in original), or, in other words, the statement of the claim “must ‘at least set forth minimal facts as to who did what to whom, when, where, and why, '” Calvi v. Knox County, 470 F.3d 422, 430 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Educadores Puertorriqueños en Acción v. Hernandez, 367 F.3d 61, 68 (1st Cir. 2004)). Where a plaintiff brings a claim against multiple defendants, the pleading must identify the alleged misconduct and legal claims against each individual defendant. The plaintiff cannot simply refer to the defendants collectively where it cannot be reasonably inferred that all the defendants engaged in the alleged misconduct or that there is a basis for vicarious ...

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