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O'Quinn v. Chapman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 10, 2014

CHESTER O'QUINN, #K-92939, Plaintiff,
v.
CHAPMAN, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court for case management. It represents one of six cases[1] that was severed from O'Quinn v. Gaetz, et al., Case No. 13-cv-01342-JPG ("original case") pursuant to a Memorandum and Order entered in the original case on April 1, 2014 (Doc. 1 in the instant case). This case involves an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Chapman, who served as Plaintiff's dentist at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard") and Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), for allegedly failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate dental care in 2013-14. Plaintiff was directed to notify the Court by May 6, 2014, if he did not wish to proceed with this severed action. The deadline has now passed.

Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend complaint on April 30, 2014 (Doc. 10). He was not required to do so in this action.[2] However, this lawsuit is still in its infancy. No parties have been served, and no answers have been filed. Under these circumstances, Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint shall be GRANTED. In light of the fact that Plaintiff previously filed a complaint and a first amended complaint in the original action, the Clerk shall be directed to file the proposed pleading as the "Second Amended Complaint."

Second Amended Complaint

Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the proposed pleading, Plaintiff provides additional factual support for his claims against Defendant Chapman. The two have a history together (p. 5). Defendant Chapman served as Plaintiff's dentist at Menard and Pinckneyville. Plaintiff's complaints about his dental care fall into three general categories.

First, Plaintiff complains that Pinckneyville's dental services are slower than Menard's. Plaintiff alleges that he did not meet with Defendant Chapman until thirty-eight days after his transfer to Pinckneyville (p. 5). He arrived at Pinckneyville on May 1, 2013, and met with Defendant Chapman for the first time on June 9, 2013. At this appointment, Defendant Chapman told Plaintiff that there is a 10-12 month waiting list for fillings and cleanings at Pinckneyville; Dr. Chapman filled Plaintiff's cavities within thirty days at Menard. Both prisons have a 12-month waiting list for cleanings. Plaintiff generally complains that Pinckneyville's slower dental services violate his Eighth Amendment rights.

Second, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Chapman recommended extraction of a tooth that could have been saved. At Plaintiff's initial dental appointment on June 9, 2013, Defendant Chapman identified two of Plaintiff's teeth that would likely require extraction. When Plaintiff asked if the teeth could be saved, Defendant Chapman said, "I been wanting to have that wisdom tooth removed and the other one I don't think a filling will work for it (sic)" (p. 5). Defendant Chapman did not schedule Plaintiff for oral surgery at that time because Plaintiff stated that he was in no pain and complained of no other symptoms.

Plaintiff returned to Defendant Chapman five or six months later complaining of facial swelling, headaches, halitosis, and ringing in his ears. Defendant Chapman referred Plaintiff to an oral surgeon for extraction of the two teeth. When Plaintiff asked the oral surgeon whether his two teeth could be saved, the provider stated that one could, and the other one could not. However, the outside provider went on to state that IDOC would not pay to save a tooth because extraction was less expensive. Plaintiff's two teeth were extracted in December 2013. Plaintiff challenges the decision to extract, rather than save, the second tooth.

Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Chapman provided Plaintiff with inadequate post-operative care following his December 2013 surgery (p. 6). Plaintiff returned from surgery with orders for a follow-up appointment and a soft diet. Defendant Chapman met with Plaintiff, examined him, and gave him pain medication. Defendant Chapman also indicated that he would follow up with Plaintiff again two or three weeks later. He did not.

Plaintiff claims that he never received a soft diet and "went hungry for 18 days" (p. 6). Plaintiff had stitches in his mouth and was in great pain. When Plaintiff ran out of pain medication one week after the operation, he had to get more from the health care unit and not Defendant Chapman. When the second supply of pain medication ran out two weeks after the operation, Plaintiff could not get more. His bleeding did not stop until eighteen days after surgery. He suffered from facial swelling, headaches, earaches, and halitosis, which persisted. In the complaint, he requests mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, and salt packs. In his request for relief, Plaintiff seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction requiring fillings, antibiotics, pain medication, and regular cleanings going forward.

In addition to Defendant Chapman, Plaintiff names several other defendants in the Second Amended Complaint. These defendants include S. A. Godinez (Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") director), Louis Shicker (IDOC medical director), Roderick Matticks (regional medical director), Thomas Spiller (Pinckneyville's warden), and Donald Gaetz (Pinckneyville's former warden). Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages (p. 6).

Discussion

The Second Amended Complaint is now subject to review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

After carefully reviewing the Second Amended Complaint, the Court finds that it states a colorable claim against Defendant Chapman under the Eighth Amendment for the denial of dental care (Count 1). However, further discussion of this claim is in order under the circumstances presented. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment. See Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435 (7th Cir. 2010). Relevant to Plaintiff's claim, 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); see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2006) ( per curiam ). To establish liability, a prisoner must show that the: (1) medical condition was ...


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