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Brown v. Chapman

September 27, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge


Plaintiff Melvin Brown filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants, Dr. Chapman, Dr. Ahmed, and Dr. Tariq, on June 13, 2005, alleging violations of his constitutional rights while he was an inmate in the Menard Correctional Center. Brown's Complaint alleges that Dr. Chapman was deliberately indifferent to Brown's serious dental needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, in connection with the extraction of a tooth and Brown's subsequent development of Bell's palsy. Now before the Court is Dr. Chapman's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 37), which the Court GRANTS for the reasons stated below.


On March 29, 2004, Dr. Chapman, a dentist at Menard Correctional Center, saw Brown for the first time for his biennial examination. Brown complained that he felt pain in one of his teeth, and Dr. Chapman found that Brown's tooth number fifteen, which had a deep filling, was causing pain. During that visit, Dr. Chapman filled the tooth and prescribed pain medication. He advised Brown that the tooth possibly would need to be extracted in the future if the problem did not resolve.

Brown attached to his response to Dr. Chapman's summary judgment motion a grievance dated April 26, 2004, which requests a pass to come to the hospital. Doc. 42-3 at 11. He stated that "something is seriously wrong" and complained that he was experiencing pains in his upper body. Id. The "Counselor's Response" section on the grievance is blank, with no response or date received noted. Id. Brown also attaches a second grievance, dated May 22, 2004, in which he explains that he did not receive a response to his first grievance and that he is experiencing shooting pains from the nerves in his mouth to his neck, face arms, and ears. Doc. 42-3 at 10. He requests a meeting with the hospital administrator and a call pass to the dentist. Id. As with the first grievance, the "Counselor's Response" section is blank, with no response or date received noted. Id.

Brown's Offender Outpatient Progress Notes indicate that, on May 30, 2004, Brown was escorted to the health care unit, complaining of a toothache, jaw pain and pain shooting down his left neck and arm. Doc. 37-3 at 6. The medical doctor's entry indicates that Brown complained of tooth pain from a filling he received about a month prior. Id. The doctor noted mild swelling and, possibly, although the note is not completely clear, exudates around a left upper molar. Id. The doctor diagnosed dental pain, and prescribed pain medication and a follow up with a dentist. Id.

On June 1, 2004, Dr. Chapman saw Brown, who complained of a terrible toothache with pus and swelling associated with tooth number fifteen. Id. at 1. At that visit, Dr. Chapman prescribed a ten-day course of penicillin for infection, with Tylenol for pain, and scheduled an examination. Id.; Doc. 37-3 at 4. Dr. Chapman saw Brown again the following day. Id. at 2. Again, the note is not perfectly clear, but it appears that Dr. Chapman found the gum area at tooth number fifteen to be tender to percussion and that he diagnosed or suspected a lesion on the root.

Id. Brown was advised to finish his antibiotics. Id.

On June 9, 2004, Brown filed a grievance stating that, two months earlier, his dentist had filled his tooth wrong and that it was up against his nerve causing pain to the whole left side of his upper torso, including his left ear. Doc. 42-3 at 9. Brown also stated that he was given medication from the dentist, but that it was not helping and that he wanted to have his tooth pulled, free of charge, "due to the careless mistake done to [him]." Id. The "Counselor's Response" section shows that the grievance was received on June 14, 2004, and indicates, "Copy of grievance sent to [health care unit] for their handling. [Inmate] hereby referred to Dental Clinic." Id.

On June 11, 2004, the medical unit provided Ibuprofen and Tylenol for Brown's dental pain. Doc. 37-3 at 2, 4. It was also noted on June 11th that Brown "is scheduled," presumably, to have the tooth extracted. Id. at 2. On June 21, 2004, Dr. Chapman extracted tooth number fifteen, noting that it was a difficult extraction with four roots present. Id. Dr. Chapman prescribed penicillin and Motrin. Id. at 4.

Brown asserts that in the months that followed the extraction, he made multiple requests to the hospital administrator to see the dentist, advising of continued pain in his mouth and cheeks. On September 16, 2004, Brown saw a nurse or medical technician who noted that Brown reported pain to his right jaw area with an onset of two weeks earlier. Doc. 42-3 at 7. Following the evaluation, Brown was escorted to Dental. Id.

The medical notes on September 16, 2004, indicate that Brown was seen on an emergency referral from a medical technician. Doc. 37-3 at 2. Brown complained of facial pain, an inability to open his mouth, and pain in his tongue, both lips, and cheek region bilaterally. Id. Brown also advised that he had experienced symptoms since the tooth extraction but that they had worsened in the previous two weeks. Id. On examination, Dr. Chapman noted normal range of motion and no oral pathology. Id. Dr. Chapman treated Brown with antibiotics and Ibuprofen, and noted a possible need for a referral to see a physician for a medical evaluation to rule out neurological causes. Id. The following day, Dr. Chapman referred Brown to a medical doctor for evaluation after Brown reported no improvement. Id. The progress notes provided to the Court do not reflect that Dr. Chapman saw Brown after September 17, 2004.

On September 24, 2004, Brown was evaluated by a medical doctor. Doc. 37-3 at 8. Brown's symptoms included right side facial weakness and decreased sensation for two-and-one-half months plus drooling when drinking liquids. Id. On examination the doctor noted decreased motor function and sensation on the right side of the face as well as the angle of the mouth deviating to the left side. Id. The diagnosis was possible Bell's palsy. Id. Acyclovir and prednisone were prescribed, and Brown was admitted to the infirmary. Id.

In Dr. Chapman's affidavit, he states that, in his practice as a dentist, he is aware of no causal link between dental care and the development of Bell's palsy Doc. 37-2 at ¶ 17. He attests that it is his understanding that 1) Bell's palsy is a condition which may occur for no known reason and is not generally attributable to any specific event; 2) Bell's palsy is a neurological condition and not one relating to dental care; 3) he has no information which would indicate that Bell's palsy can be attributable to dental care in any way; and 4) he is aware of no information from any physician who has attributed Brown's Bell's palsy or any development of Bell's palsy to dental care. Doc. 37-2 at ¶¶ 18, 20, 21. Brown, on the other hand, attests in his ...

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