United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
WILLIAM C. MAZUREK, # R-44679, Plaintiff,
DR. WALDVOGEL, DR. DACE, DR. O'BRIAN, SHERRY LYNN, DR. CONWAY, ALLEN MARTIN, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., SALVATOR GODINEZ, and LEHMAN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on events that occurred while he was confined at Shawnee Correctional Center ("Shawnee"). He is serving a 15-year sentence for criminal sexual assault. Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious need for dental treatment. In addition, two of the Defendants filed false disciplinary charges against him in retaliation for his pursuit of grievances over his dental care.
More specifically, Plaintiff states that he has suffered from painful dental problems affecting several of his teeth since September 2012 or before (Doc. 1, p. 11). Defendant Waldvogel, a former Shawnee dentist, approved Plaintiff to receive tooth restoration treatment on August 24, 2012 (Doc. 1, pp. 12, 26). The approval letter noted that he was likely to have a long wait, both due to equipment breakdowns and because about 20 other inmates were ahead of him on the list, some for nearly two years.
On March 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance because his dental problems had not yet been addressed. On March 22, 2013, Defendant Waldvogel put a temporary filling in tooth #31, which had a "huge hole, " and told Plaintiff he would be called back in two weeks for a permanent filling (Doc. 1, p. 12). However, he never called Plaintiff in for this dental work, despite Plaintiff's complaints that the temporary filling had fallen out and he was in pain. Plaintiff continued to suffer extreme pain and an infection from that tooth, as well as four other teeth: #32, #14, #3, and #2.
Plaintiff was next seen by Defendant Dace, who replaced Defendant Waldvogel as the Shawnee dentist (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff suffers from Hepatitis C, and although he had been approved to receive HCV treatment for that condition, he could not start treatment until his dental infection was resolved (Doc. 1, pp. 13, 36). On September 14, 2013, Defendant Dace told Plaintiff that tooth #31 (the infected tooth from which the temporary filling had come out) could only be saved with a root canal, a procedure that could not be performed at the prison.
Defendant Dace started him on a two-week course of antibiotics. Plaintiff consented to have the tooth extracted, but at the same time filed an emergency grievance to Defendant Warden Martin seeking a referral for a root canal. Defendant Dace then made a request/referral to Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford" - the company which is under contract to provide dental care to prisoners), to have Plaintiff approved for a root canal outside the prison (Doc. 1, pp. 14, 39-42). Defendant Martin approved this referral request. However, Defendant O'Brian (Utilization Management Physician for Wexford) and Defendant Wexford denied the request, leaving Plaintiff with extraction of the tooth as his only option (Doc. 1, p. 43). In November 2013, Defendant Dace pulled tooth #31, but refused to address Plaintiff's complaints about the four other teeth.
Defendant Lynn (Shawnee Health Care Administrator) reviewed Plaintiff's grievances regarding his dental care, and is responsible for the health care equipment used in caring for inmates (which Defendant Waldvogel stated had broken down, causing delays in treatment) (Doc. 1, p. 16).
Defendant Conway is another Shawnee dentist. On February 13 and 21, 2014, he filled tooth #2, and advised Plaintiff he would try to fill the other teeth, but might have to pull them if the cavities were too close to the nerve (Doc. 1, p. 16).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Warden Martin "signs his name carelessly to grievances in concurrence" and has the power to intervene when numerous inmates complain of problems with dental care (Doc. 1, p. 17).
He further claims that Defendant Wexford has a policy and/or practice of denying rudimentary dental procedures as well as preventing inmates from having access to outside facilities where such care might be provided (Doc. 1, p. 17). Further, Defendant Wexford is responsible for providing functional equipment so that inmates may receive dental care in the prison.
Defendant Godinez (Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections - IDOC), concurred with the denial of Plaintiff's grievance over his unsuccessful request to have a root canal and other matters (Doc. 1, pp. 18, 42).
Plaintiff's retaliation claim is against Defendants Lehman (dental assistant) and Dace (Doc. 1, pp. 18-22). After Defendant Conway filled tooth #2 on February 21, 2014, Plaintiff put in several complaints of pain in tooth #3 (Defendant Conway planned to attempt to fill teeth #3, #4, and #32 at a later date). On March 22, 2014, Plaintiff was called to see Defendant Dace, who talked to him about bone loss and told him she could do nothing for him that day. Plaintiff asked about the pain he was having in tooth #3. Defendants Dace and Lehman took several x-rays of Plaintiff's teeth and told him they may be too far gone for fillings (Doc. 1, p. 20). They discussed the denied root canal procedure over which Plaintiff had filed a grievance several months before. Defendant Dace then proceeded to drill and fill three teeth (#32, #29, and #28), two of which Plaintiff never complained about, and did nothing for the painful tooth #3. Plaintiff filed a grievance on March 23, 2014, over her failure to complete his treatment (Doc. 1, pp. 21, 49-50).
Defendants Dace and Lehman submitted a disciplinary report on March 26, 2014, claiming that Plaintiff intimidated and threatened them into giving him fillings on March 22, refusing to leave until all his teeth were done (Doc. 1, p. 21, 45-48). Plaintiff asserts that these accusations are false, pointing out that they never asked for help from the nearby guard even though he supposedly threatened them. Plaintiff requested witnesses and asked to question Defendants in person, but this was not done. He was found guilty after the disciplinary hearing, and was punished with three ...