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Stevenson v. Zimmerman

March 23, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


Before the court are the Defendant, Robert Scholz's summary judgment motion pursuant to Federal Rule 56 [39], the plaintiff's response [47] and [48], Scholz's reply [48], Defendants, Zimmerman, Walker, Ford, Fuqua, Goins, and VanStrien's summary judgment motion [36] and the plaintiff's response [40] and defendants' reply [45].


Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

"Summary judgment is the 'put up or shut up' moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2000). A party opposing summary judgment bears the burden to respond, not simply by resting on its own pleading but by "set[ting] out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In order to be a "genuine" issue, there must be more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "If [the non-movant] does not [meet his burden], summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against [the non-movant]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Affidavits must be based on the personal knowledge of the affiant and "set out facts that would be admissible in evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (emphasis added). Personal knowledge may include inferences and opinions drawn from those facts. Visser v. Packer Eng. Assoc., Inc., 924 F.2d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 1991). "But the inferences and opinions must be grounded in observation or other first-hand personal experience. They must not be based on flights of fancy, speculations, hunches, intuitions or rumors remote from that experience." Visser, 924 F.2d at 659.


The Plaintiff in this case has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Scholz, a dentist who provides care and treatment to inmates at the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Pursuant to this court's Case Management Order No. 1 dated May 3, 2007, the court found that Plaintiff's complaint stated a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious dental need. Defendant admits that Plaintiff suffered from gingivitis; however, Defendant denies that Plaintiff's condition constituted a serious medical need. Nevertheless, Defendant denies that any act or omission on his part constituted deliberate indifference to a serious medical need of the Plaintiff. Defendant Scholz now brings this Motion for Summary Judgment [39] as there are no genuine issues of material fact regarding the care and treatment provided to Michael Stevenson.

Undisputed Material Facts*fn1

1. According to Plaintiff's medical records, it appears that he was screened and oriented to the Western Illinois Correctional Center in May of 2006. (Exhibits 1 and 1-A.)

2. In general, Dr. Scholz would not be advised of Plaintiff's medical complaints which were not dental related. These complaints would be directed to the nursing staff and potentially to the Medical Director. (Exhibit 1.)

3. Unless the nurse or physician referred the patient to the dental office following a complaint, Dr. Scholz would not be made aware of complaints concerning an inmate's mouth. (Exhibit 1.)

4. The first reference in the medical records to any problems regarding the patient's mouth appears on December 11, 2006. According to Dr. Brown's note, the patient reported that his gums were bleeding despite flossing. Dr. Brown's note indicates that he would discuss this with dental. (Exhibits 1 and 1-B.)

5. There do not appear to be any additional medical complaints concerning the patient's mouth or teeth in the Plaintiff's medical file. (Exhibit 1.)

6. In the course of Dr. Scholz's practice as a dentist at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, he did see an inmate by the name of Michael Stevenson. His dental records attached hereto include Exhibits 1-C and 1-D.

7. Exhibit 1-C identifies that Mr. Stevenson did have moderate periodontal disease when Dr. Scholz saw him in July of 2006. (Exhibit 1.)

8. Notes of Dr. Scholz's care and treatment from July 5, 2006 through September 12, 2007 are shown on Exhibit 1-D.

9. On July 5, 2006 at 8 a.m., Mr. Stevenson came to see Dr. Scholz for complaints of bleeding gums. Dr. Scholz diagnosed him with moderate gingivitis and he was provided with oral hygiene instructions. (Exhibits 1 and 1-D.)

10. On August 6, 2006, Plaintiff returned complaining of problems with his gums from food getting packed between his teeth. Plaintiff was wanting a cleaning. Oral health instructions were given to him. (Exhibits 1 and 1-D.)

11. At that time, Dr. Scholz explained to Mr. Stevenson that dentists did not provide cleanings and there was no dental hygienist at Western Illinois Correctional Center to perform that function. (Exhibit 1.)

12. In Dr. Scholz's practice as one of the dentists at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, he took care of inmates' teeth in the order of worst to best. Mr. Stevenson did not have a significantly serious condition to warrant immediate treatment for his complaints. There were many other inmates who had immediate and emergent problems that needed to be addressed first. (Exhibit 1.)

13. The Department of Corrections has Administrative Directives which categorize dental problems from Category I to Category VI. (Exhibit 1.)

14. Mr. Stevenson's moderate gingivitis was not a Category I condition. (Exhibit 1.)

15. Dr. Scholz would have considered Mr. Stevenson's gingivitis to be a Category III or Category II condition. (Exhibit 1.)

16. At the time Dr. Scholz first saw Mr. Stevenson, he explained to him the need and requirement to provide care and treatment to those patients who suffered Category I conditions first. (Exhibit 1.)

17. Dr. Scholz advised Mr. Stevenson that he needed to practice good oral hygiene and by doing so, his teeth would be cleaner in order to halt and prevent worsening of his condition. (Exhibit 1.)

18. On October 3, 2006, Mr. Stevenson came back to the dental unit again asking for a cleaning. Dr. Scholz advised him that him his teeth were not bad enough to warrant bumping off or fillings. Dr. Scholz suggested that he ask for a transfer. (Exhibits 1 and 1-D.)

19. On October 3, 2006, Dr. Scholz explained to Mr. Stevenson that the Western Illinois Correctional Center did not have a dental hygienist but that other facilities may have one. He may possibly be able to get his teeth cleaned there in an effort to treat or prevent worsening of his gingivitis. (Exhibit 1.)

20. On October 24, 2006, Mr. Stevenson appeared in the dental unit but was not seen by Dr. Scholz. (Exhibit 1.)

21. On December 19, 2006, Dr. Scholz responded to a grievance regarding Mr. Stevenson's complaints that Dr. Scholz was not treating his dental health appropriately. Dr. Scholz advised him that his gingivitis was not emergent. (Exhibits 1 and 1-D.)

22. Mr. Stevenson complained of terrible pain, headaches, and severe bleeding. Dr. Scholz noted that on examination, there was no objective evidence to verify the complaints made by the Plaintiff in his grievance. Dr. Scholz found no dental reason to be causing Plaintiff's complained of pain or headaches. He saw no severe bleeding. (Exhibit 1.)

23. Again, Dr. Scholz explained and provided Mr. Stevenson with oral health information. (Exhibit 1.)

24. The next time Dr. Scholz saw Mr. Stevenson was on July 31, 2007. At that time, Dr. Scholz examined Mr. Stevenson's gums and determined that he would perform a deep scaling and root planing in an effort to address his gingivitis. (Exhibit 1.)

25. These procedures were performed on August 8, 2007. (Exhibits 1 and 1-D.)

26. Dr. Scholz examined Mr. Stevenson's gums again on September 12, 2007. At that time, his gums looked much better than they had before. (Exhibits 1 and 1-D.)

27. At that time, Dr. Scholz determined that Mr. Stevenson's complaints regarding his gums were resolved. His periodontal disease in the form of gingivitis was under control and that with proper oral hygiene, Mr. ...

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