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Munson v. Kimble

August 24, 2010


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


Plaintiff James Munson, an inmate in the Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.


In May 2008, Munson requested a dentist appointment due to a toothache. Munson was examined by a dentist, who told Munson he needed fillings, and the dentist would schedule Munson for that procedure. In July 2008 Munson returned to the medical unit for his annual check-up. At that time he saw Defendant Kimble and complained about his tooth pain, which had gone untreated for two months. A few months later, in November 2008, Munson again requested to see a dentist, as his dental problems had not yet been treated. Kimble examined him and found that one tooth was cracked. Kimble also noted from the chart that Munson should have had his teeth filled, which had not yet been done. Munson requested pain medication, but Kimble denied the request because he had no pus, bleeding, or swelling around his teeth. Instead, Kimble told him that he could request another dental appointment to have his teeth pulled.

In March 2009, Munson was called to the dentist. He told Kimble that he was still in pain, he was unable to eat or brush or floss on the left side of his mouth due to the pain and swelling, and he had severe headaches. Kimble explained that there was a two-year waiting list for fillings, that Menard had the worst dental care in Illinois, and that he was very under-staffed. However, Kimble still refused to give him any pain medication. On April 13, 2009, almost 11 months after his first dental visit, Munson finally got his fillings done.


Munson's primary claim is that in delaying and denying him treatment for his decaying tooth, Kimble acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

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 ...

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