United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.
Plaintiff Rodney Heard, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). According to the complaint, Plaintiff's requests for dental care were consistently denied over the course of nearly two years, as salivary duct stones and a tumor developed in his mouth (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff ultimately lost most of his lower jaw bone and ten teeth to cancer (Doc. 1, p. 8). He now raises an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against seven officials at two institutions, including Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville") and Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.
According to the allegations in the complaint, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a painful salivary duct stone and recurring oral infection during his incarceration at Pontiac (Doc. 1, p. 5). On March 2, 2011, Pontiac's dentist, Defendant "John Doe 1, " took x-rays of Plaintiff's mouth, prescribed antibiotics, and referred him to an oral surgeon (Doc. 1, p. 8).
The oral surgeon refused to perform surgery. He stated that the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") would not approve it, although the complaint alleges that the IDOC would. It is Pontiac's warden, Defendant Guy Pierce, who allegedly instituted a policy of denying this surgery.
Instead of a surgery referral, Plaintiff was sent to Pontiac's medical director, Defendant "John Doe 2, " who diagnosed him with swollen and infected gums. Defendant Doe 2 also denied Plaintiff's request for surgery and a CT scan on June 2, 2011, based on the fact that Plaintiff would soon be transferred to another facility. In the meantime, Defendant Doe 2 treated Plaintiff with Motrin and antibiotics.
Plaintiff was not transferred to Pinckneyville until October 19, 2011 (Doc. 1, p. 5). The following day, he met with a dentist, Dr. Chapman. Although Dr. Chapman noted Plaintiff's diagnosis with salivary duct stones when reviewing his medical records, he failed to monitor or treat them. On October 26, 2011, Plaintiff submitted a request to see Dr. Chapman for a "painful salivary duct stone that [wa]s swollen" (Doc. 1, p. 5). The request was ignored.
From that point forward, Plaintiff suffered from swelling and pain on the right side of his mouth that flared up every two or three months. Eating caused so much pain on the right side of his mouth that Plaintiff used only his left side. During each episode, Plaintiff asked to see a dentist. Each time, his request was ignored.
In August 2012, Plaintiff met with one of Pinckneyville's grievance counselors, Defendant Hess. He requested a grievance form. Defendant Hess wanted to know why Plaintiff needed it. When Plaintiff explained that he had been waiting for almost a year to see a dentist, after submitting four separate requests, Defendant Hess explained that it generally takes a year to see a dentist (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff also blames Pinckneyville's warden, Defendant Donald Gaetz, for denying inmates access to grievance forms and other means of obtaining medical care (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Plaintiff developed a swollen lymph node under his right jaw and a painful lump in his neck (Doc. 1, p. 5). On January 18, 2013, he met with one of Pinckneyville's medical doctors, Defendant Shah, to discuss it. Plaintiff asked Defendant Shah if an oral infection could cause the lumps. In response, Defendant Shah asked Plaintiff if he had seen a dentist. Plaintiff explained that he had been waiting to do so for quite some time. Defendant Shah prescribed antibiotics and ordered lab work, but failed to refer Plaintiff to a dentist (Doc. 1, p. 8).
On February 18, 2013, Plaintiff was finally called to the dentist's office to see Dr. Chapman. There, Plaintiff explained that he had submitted four requests for treatment of his ongoing salivary duct stone problems. Defendant Chapman claimed that he had never received the requests and was simply meeting with Plaintiff for a bi-annual check-up.
During the examination, Defendant Chapman discovered a cyst and four loose teeth in Plaintiff's mouth. X-rays taken on February 19th and 20th revealed that Plaintiff's teeth and jaw bone had been eaten away by an infection or cancer. Defendant Chapman referred Plaintiff to a facial and jaw specialist, Dr. Swanson.
When Dr. Swanson took x-rays of Plaintiff's mouth, he discovered a tumor in his jaw bone that was "so big that he feared doing a biopsy at his office" (Doc. 1, p. 8). Instead, Plaintiff was taken to a surgical center for the procedure on March 6, 2013. During the biopsy, Dr. Swanson removed four of Plaintiff's lower right teeth and some jaw bone. The biopsy confirmed the presence of a cancerous tumor.
Plaintiff underwent four surgeries. In the process, he lost "ten teeth, over half of [his] lower jaw bone, the bone that holds the tongue forward..., [and the] nerve under [his] lower right jaw" (Doc. 1, p. 8). He endured two "very painful" bone grafts. A titanium plate and mesh now covers half of the jaw bone. Plaintiff suffers from external scarring, ...