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Hill v. Miller

October 16, 2008

WILLIAM HILL, INMATE #B-39288, A/K/A WENDELL HUDSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARY MILLER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, formerly an inmate in the Shawnee Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Despite having accumulated "three strikes," the Court granted his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, finding his allegations regarding lack of dental care supported his claim that he is under "imminent danger of serious physical injury." See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). However, in his original complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff made no specific allegations against any named defendant with respect to dental care. Therefore, he was granted leave to file an amended complaint regarding his dental care, with the directive that he identify specific defendants who denied him dental care.

The amended complaint (Doc. 23) is currently before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the amended complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of the amended complaint are subject to summary dismissal.

DENTAL CARE

Plaintiff states that for over ten years, he has suffered from an untreated mouth infection, which has caused bleeding gums, tooth aches, and persistently offensive bad breath. As a result, numerous teeth have been extracted, and he fears that he may lose the rest of his teeth if his condition remains untreated. He further alleges that he has complained to Defendants Miller, Roman, and the John Doe dentists at Danville, Vienna and Shawnee Correctional Centers, but they have consistently failed to provide him with any treatment to cure his condition.

The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). Moreover, courts recognize that dental care is "one of the most important medical needs of inmates." See Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 593 (7th Cir. 2001).

A deliberate indifference claim requires both an objectively serious risk of harm and a subjectively culpable state of mind. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). A deliberate indifference claim premised upon inadequate medical treatment requires, to satisfy the objective element, a medical condition "that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention." Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653. The subjective component of a deliberate indifference claim requires that the prison official knew of "a substantial risk of harm to the inmate and disregarded the risk." Id.; Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Mere medical malpractice or a disagreement with a doctor's medical judgment is not deliberate indifference. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 107 (1976); Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653; Estate of Cole by Pardue v. Fromm, 94 F.3d 254, 261 (7th Cir. 1996). Still, a plaintiff's receipt of some medical care does not automatically defeat a claim of deliberate indifference if a fact finder could infer the treatment was "so blatantly inappropriate as to evidence intentional mistreatment likely to seriously aggravate" a medical condition. Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 830-31 (7th Cir. 2007).

Applying these standards to the allegations made, the Court is unable to dismiss the claims against Miller, Roman, or the ...


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