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Bryan Thomas, #R-12763 v. Warden Bates

June 12, 2012


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


Plaintiff Bryan Thomas, an inmate in Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on events that occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Big Muddy Correctional Center ("Big Muddy"). Plaintiff is serving a four year sentence for attempted burglary. 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). Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

The following summary of the facts is drawn from Plaintiff's first amended complaint (Doc. 23), filed on December 14, 2011. Plaintiff's primary claim is that the estimated 18-month delay in providing him with dental services to fill cavities in eight of his teeth constitutes deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Additionally, he asserts that he cannot meet his needs for hygiene items or send any non-legal correspondence because any state pay he earns is deducted from his prison account, leaving him with no funds.

Plaintiff began his incarceration at Stateville on November 29, 2010. A dental examination there revealed the cavities as well as a wisdom tooth that required extraction (Doc. 23, p. 9). After Plaintiff was transferred to Robinson Correctional Center on December 10, 2010, the wisdom tooth was pulled, and he was told he would be placed on a waiting list to have the cavities filled.

More than three months later, Plaintiff was transferred to Big Muddy on March 30, 2011, still having received no treatment for the cavities. When he saw the dentist on May 4, 2011, he was told it would take 18 more months before his cavities could be filled. Plaintiff filed this action on June 16, 2011; when he filed his amended complaint in December 2011, he still had received no further dental treatment. He states he wrote a number of grievances attempting to get care for his cavities, to no avail (Doc. 23, p.6). He claims that the condition of his teeth has worsened over time. Pieces have fallen off his decayed teeth, and he has "shooting pain" when he eats or drinks hot or cold food or beverages (Doc. 23, p. 10). Only the medication he takes for his back keeps him from being in a state of constant pain. He fears that if the cavities are not filled, he could lose one-fourth of his teeth, that could otherwise be saved if given treatment.

Because of the bad condition of his teeth, Plaintiff has a particular need for a toothbrush. When he was transferred to Big Muddy, his toothbrushes were lost or stolen. He apparently has not been provided with an "indigent kit" containing hygiene items, allegedly due to the actions of Defendants Hayden, Brawler, and Gaddis. He has been hindered from purchasing hygiene supplies because any pay he earns is deducted from his prison account, evidently to reimburse the prison for legal postage and copying expenses incurred on Plaintiff's behalf (see Doc. 7, pp. 1, 3, 5-6). Plaintiff states he has sold items, apparently to other inmates, in order to acquire hygiene supplies (Doc. 23, p. 10).

Additionally, Plaintiff's lack of funds has prevented him from sending correspondence to anybody outside the prison, with the exception of legal mail. Plaintiff asserts that the taking of his earnings has thus deprived him of his ...

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