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Farmer v. Mhm Maryland, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 2, 2015

JEFF FARMER, Plaintiff,


PAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.

Defendants MHM Maryland and Siracusano have filed a Motion to Dismiss[2] ECF No. 8. Plaintiff opposes the motion (ECF No. 15) and moves for appointment of counsel as well as a scheduling order (ECF No. 16). The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).


Plaintiff Jeff Farmer is incarcerated at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI") in Westover, Maryland. He claims that when he "arrived... at ECI on May 20, 2013, [he] was taken off [the] psych meds that [he] was taking in the county jail" where he was held prior to his transfer. Am. Compl. 3, ECF NO. 4. Farmer informed staff at ECI he has "psychological issues" and that only one medication, Seroquel, which he had been taking for five years or more before his transfer, "offer[ed] [him] relief from [his] severe mental problems." Id. According to Plaintiff, Dr. Howard Penn "refused to allow [Farmer] to see a psychiatrist, " even though Farmer "explained [he] was having a terrible time with [his] illnesses and was feeling homicidal and suicidal and lo[ ]sing the little bit of mind [he had] left, [was] not sleeping, and [was] extremely paranoid." Id. Farmer states that he "put[ ] in several sick calls" before he was seen by a psychiatrist nearly five months after his arrival. Id. at 3. Farmer alleges he has tried all of "the formulary medication that D.O.C. only wants to use, " and none are effective. Id. at 4. His requests for Seroquel have been denied. Id. He claims that Dr. Siracusano "told [him] there's no way [he'll] receive Seroquel" at ECI and "told [Farmer] he didn't care" if it was a violation of Farmer's rights to withhold Seroquel. Id. Farmer claims that he went three months without seeing a doctor and then saw Dr. Siracusano who again "told [Farmer] he didn't care about that and that [he] was not getting the meds." Id. Plaintiff alleges that "[e]ventually Dr. Reeves prescribed... the proper medication [he] need[s], " but Dr. Reeves's supervisor denied Dr. Reeves's request for the prescription. Id.

In administrative remedy requests attached to his complaint, Farmer stated that he was "off any psych meds for 5 weeks, " that his requests to see Dr. Reeves were denied, that he "need[s] to be seen on a regular basis until [his] medication works, " that a psychiatrist working at Patuxent Institution prescribed Seroquel for him when he was there, and that "[t]he only reason [he] can think [he's] being denied the medication [he has] been on since 2007 and need[ s] is for monetary reasons." Req. for Admin. Remedy 7-9, Compl. Ex. 1, ECF NO. 1-1. In response to one administrative complaint, Farmer was told he was receiving treatment, but that he was non-compliant and he needed to follow the directives of his treating physicians. Id. at 8. Farmer further claims that he spoke with Dr. Siracusano about his medications on May 1, 2014, but he was still denied effective medication for his mental illness. Id. at 11. He states no attempt has been made "to treat any of [his] multiple illnesses" aside from his "schizophrenic/bipolar issues." Id.


Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this Court may dismiss a claim or complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, ___ F.Supp. 3d ___, 2015 WL 452285, at *8 (D. Md. Feb. 3, 2015). In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court bears in mind the requirements of Rule 8, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Specifically, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state "a plausible claim for relief, " as "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, " Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. See Velencia v. Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md. Dec. 13, 2012) (discussing standard from Iqbal and Twombly). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and his Complaint is to be construed liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, liberal construction does not absolve Plaintiff from pleading a plausible claim. See Holsey v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122, 128 (D. Md. 1981) (citing Inmates v. Owens, 561 F.2d 560, 562-63 (4th Cir. 1977)).

It is neither unfair nor unreasonable to require a pleader to put his complaint in an intelligible, coherent, and manageable form, and his failure to do so may warrant dismissal. District courts are not required to be mind readers, or to conjure questions not squarely presented to them.

Harris v. Angliker, 955 F.2d 41, 1992 WL 21375, at * 1 (4th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (internal citations omitted).


A. Eighth Amendment Claim

The Eighth Amendment prohibits "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" by virtue of its guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976). "Scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment is not limited to those punishments authorized by statute and imposed by a criminal judgment." De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991)). To state an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of medical care, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the actions of the defendants or their failure to act amounted to deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need requires proof that, objectively, the prisoner plaintiff was suffering from a serious medical need and that, subjectively, the prison staff were aware of the need for medical attention but failed to either provide it or ensure the needed care was available. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). Objectively, the medical condition at issue must be serious. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (there is no expectation that prisoners will be provided with unqualified access to health care). Proof of an objectively serious medical condition, however, does not end the inquiry.

The subjective component requires "subjective recklessness" in the face of the serious medical condition. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839-40. "True subjective recklessness requires knowledge both of the general risk, and also that the conduct is inappropriate in light of that risk." Rich v. Bruce, 129 F.3d 336, 340 n.2 (4th Cir. 1997). "Actual knowledge or awareness on the part of the alleged inflicter... becomes essential to proof of deliberate indifference because prison officials who lacked knowledge of a risk cannot be said to have inflicted punishment.'" Brice v. Va. Beach Corr. Ctr., 58 F.3d 101, 105 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844). If the requisite subjective knowledge is established, an official may avoid liability "if [he] responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm was not ultimately averted." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844. Reasonableness of the actions taken must be judged in light of the risk the defendant actually knew at ...

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