United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.
Plaintiff Anthony Boyce ("Boyce"), who is currently incarcerated at the Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Boyce contends that dentists Jacqueline Mitchell-Lawshea ("Dr. Mitchell") and Michelle Brown ("Dr. Brown"), physician Imhotep Carter ("Dr. Carter"), and psychiatrist Jonathan Kelly ("Dr. Kelly") were deliberately indifferent to his serious dental needs while he was housed at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). Before the Court are a motion for summary judgment filed by Dr. Mitchell and a joint motion for summary judgment filed by Dr. Brown, Dr. Carter, and Dr. Kelly. Defendants bring both motions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the following reasons, the motions are granted.
I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1
Because Boyce is a pro se litigant, Defendants served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment, " as required by Local Rule 56.2. (R. 173 and 178.) The notices explained in detail the consequences of failing to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment and statement of material facts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56.1.
Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires a party moving for summary judgment to submit "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law." Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing L.R. 56.1(a)(3)). Under Local Rule 56.1(b)(3), the nonmoving party then must submit a "concise response" to each statement of fact, "including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). The nonmoving party may also present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C); see also Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).
"When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by [Local Rule 56.1], those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the [summary judgment] motion." Cracco, 559 F.3d at 632. Thus, district courts disregard Local Rule 56.1 responses that do not cite specific portions of the record or that contain irrelevant information, legal arguments, conjecture, or evasive denials. See id.; see also Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006); Bordelon v. Chi. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 528 (7th Cir. 2000).
A plaintiff's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with federal and local procedural rules. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993). Boyce is an experienced pro se litigant as this action is one of seven pending lawsuits Boyce has filed in this district about the conditions of his confinement at Stateville. See Boyce v. Gray, No. 13 C 2967; Boyce v. Godinez, No. 12 C 3840; Boyce v. Carter, No. 12 C 5372 (this action); Boyce v. Obaisi, No. 13 C 5746; Boyce v. Martella, No. 13 C 6526; Boyce v. Johnson, No. 6832; Boyce v. Doe, No. 14 C 418. Nevertheless, given his pro se status, the Court will construe his filings liberally. See Ambrose v. Roeckeman, 749 F.3d 615, 618 (7th Cir. 2014).
Boyce's objections to facts based on relevancy are overruled as the Court, not the parties, decides what facts are relevant for purposes of summary judgment. See Timothy & Thomas LLC v. Viral Genetics, Inc., No. 06 C 1813, 2010 WL 3155972, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 10, 2010). Similarly, the Court will disregard unresponsive, evasive, or argumentative denials, so the corresponding facts are deemed admitted. See Flores v. Giuliano, No. 12 C 162, 2014 WL 3360504, at *2 (N.D. Ill. July 9, 2014); Bennett v. Unitek Global Serv., LLC, No. 10 C 4968, 2013 WL 4804841, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 9, 2013).
Next, Boyce repeatedly states that Defendants' facts do "not tell the entire story" and, in support, directs the Court's attention to unresponsive statements in his declaration (R. 194, Boyce's Resp. to Mitchell's Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, ¶ 16) or his second amended complaint, declaration, and exhibits, with no pinpoint citations or explanation ( Id. ¶ 25). He also denies facts based on his contention that he "allege[d] everything in his second amended complaint and exhibits 2-187 in support of his case with his declaration." (R. 199, Boyce's Resp. to Carter, Kelly and Brown's Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, ¶ 11). These types of responses are insufficient to deny the facts in question. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). Thus, when Boyce has made this type of general denial in response to the Defendants' facts, the corresponding facts are deemed admitted to the extent they are supported by the record.
In addition, the Court will consider assertions in Boyce's declaration to the extent that they expand or clarify Boyce's deposition testimony. See, e.g., Quinlan v. Elysian Hotel Co. LLC, 916 F.Supp.2d 843, 849 (N.D. Ill. 2013). Where Boyce's deposition and declaration directly conflict, however, the deposition controls. See id.
Finally, Boyce's responses to the two summary judgment motions include lists entitled "Plaintiff[']s statement of disputed factual issues." (R. 199, Resp. Carter, Kelly and Brown, pp. 11-15; R. 194, Resp. Mitchell, pp. 5-6.) These statements consist of lists of open ended questions, such as "whether Carter relied on the professional judgment of his dental staff" (R. 199, p.12) and "whether Defendant Mitchell had good intentions in providing plaintiff adequate dental care" (R. 194, p. 5). The Defendants objected to Boyce's purported additional facts but nevertheless responded to them pursuant to L.R. 56.1(a). (R. 204, 209.) The Court will not consider Boyce's alleged additional facts because even when they are construed broadly, they are not "statement[s], consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the facts.
II. Relevant Facts
Boyce is in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). (R. 176, Carter, Kelly and Brown's Stmt. Facts, ¶ 1.) Although he is currently incarcerated at Pontiac, this case is based on dental care he received when he was housed at Stateville. ( Id. ) Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Brown are dentists whom IDOC and Wexford Health Services, respectively, employed. ( Id. ¶ 3; R. 176, Carter, Kelly and Brown's Stmt. Facts, ¶ 2.) Dr. Carter is a physician employed by Wexford Health Services who was also Stateville's Medical Director from July 2011 to May 2012. (R. 176, Carter, Kelly and Brown's Stmt. Facts, ¶ 4.) Dr. Kelly is a psychiatrist employed by Wexford Health Services. ( Id. ¶ 3.)
A. Boyce's Allegations About His Dental Care
Boyce's dissatisfaction with the dental care he received at Stateville began in August 2008, when he alleges that an unknown dentist examined him using unsterilized equipment. (Dkt. 112, Sec. Am. Compl., ¶ 1.) IDOC transferred him to a different IDOC facility, where he "began to feel discomfort in his mouth." ( Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) In 2009, he returned to Stateville, where he experienced pain in his gums and teeth. ( Id. ¶ 6.) At an unspecified point in 2009, he wrote Dr. Mitchell requesting treatment for cavities and his gums. ( Id. ¶ 7.)
Boyce asserts that Dr. Mitchell "ignor[ed]" his requests for treatment of his gum issues and cavities and in February 2012, failed to adequately address his complaints of pain. ( Id. ¶¶ 7, 19, 22.) He also asserts that she said, "I'm not gonna give you pain pills or fillings because when you X-ray a patient it's a form of treatment." ( Id. ¶ 22.) According to Boyce, his deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Mitchell is based on her alleged failure to address his dental needs quickly enough and the fact that she did not prescribe pain medication. (R. 179, Mitchell's Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, ¶ 25.)
In addition, Boyce represents that in September 2011, Dr. Brown refused to see Boyce after a correctional officer relayed Boyce's complaints of dental pain to her. (Dkt. 112, Sec. Am. Compl., ¶ 9.) The following month, Dr. Brown filled some of Boyce's cavities but denied his request to receive pain medication during the procedure to make him needlessly suffer. ( Id. ¶ 11.) Boyce thus contends that Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Brown provided constitutionally inadequate dental care for "gum disease [which] caused cavities to hurt and form with tooth decay[, ] sensitivity[, and] gum swelling." ( Id. ¶ 7.)
Next, Boyce alleges that during a therapy appointment in October 2011, Dr. Kelly ignored his complaints about dental pain. ( Id. ¶ 12; R. 197, Boyce Decl., ¶ 11.) Boyce knew that Dr. Kelly was a psychiatrist, not a dentist, so he recognized that Dr. Kelly could not provide dental care. (R. 197, Boyce Decl., ¶ 11.) Nevertheless, Boyce believed that Dr. Kelly "could have had [his] issues addressed" because he "personally could have got [him] seen or requested that [he] be seen or could have dropped a request slip that [he] be seen. He could have [done] something to assist in helping." (R. 176-2, Boyce Dep., pp. 36-37.)
With respect to Dr. Carter, Boyce contends that in January 2012, he complained to Dr. Carter in person about Dr. Brown's dental care. In response, Dr. Carter ignored his complaints, "laughed" at him, and refused to refer him to a specialist despite his acknowledgment that a referral was medically necessary. (Dkt. 112, Sec. Am. Compl., ¶¶ 13, 15.) Boyce further alleges that following this conversation, Dr. Carter said he would meet him in the bullpen with pain medication. ( Id. ¶ 16.) When Dr. Carter arrived at the bullpen, Boyce asked for his medication. ( Id. ) Dr. Carter responded, "Don't interrupt me when you can see me talking" and ordered him "back to [his] living unit." ( Id. ¶ 17.)
B. Treatment Provided to Boyce During His Incarceration at Stateville
1. Dr. Mitchell
Dr. Mitchell scheduled Boyce for fifteen different non-emergency dental appointments between February 2011 and August 2013. (R. 179, Mitchell's Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, ¶ 8.) Boyce received treatment at the dental clinic nine times:
On October 6, 2011, "various cavities" were filled (presumably by Dr. Brown, who also saw Boyce on this date and filled cavities). ( Id. ¶ 11).
On November 4, 2011, Boyce's teeth were cleaned. ( Id. ¶ 12.)
On January 11, 2012, Boyce again visited the dental clinic and "received various fillings and other treatment." ( Id. ¶ 14.)
On January 19, 2012, Boyce was diagnosed with gum disease and his teeth were cleaned again. ( Id. ¶ 15, Ex. C at ¶ 7.)
On February 2, 2012, Boyce complained about pain and sores during his dental clinic appointment. ( Id. ¶ 16.) Staff took X-ray images and, although they could not confirm the presence of sores, they referred Boyce to the medical clinic. ( Id., Ex. C at ¶ 7.)
On March 19, 2013, Boyce received a surgical extraction and a filling. ( Id. ¶ 19.)
On May 14, 2013, Boyce had another appointment, where he received two fillings. ( Id. ¶ 21.)
On June 4, 2013, Boyce's fillings were polished. ( Id. ¶ 22.)
On August 5, 2013, after an examination, Boyce's dental work was certified as complete. ( Id. ¶ 23.)
Boyce was unable to appear at the dental clinic for six of his scheduled appointments due to lock-downs or placement in disciplinary segregation for conduct unrelated to the issues in this case. ( Id. Ex. C at ¶ 7 (February 16, 2011 and June 29, 2011 appointments), ¶ 13 (November 2011 appointment), ¶ 17 (March 7, 2012 ...