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McBride v. Henderson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 6, 2015

EDWARD M. McBRIDE, # R-66611, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Edward McBride, who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was denied a soft diet at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard") in 2012. At the time, he had no upper teeth, and eating caused pain and bleeding. Plaintiff now raises an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Harry Henderson (dentist), Lillan Overall (dentist), Steven Newbold (dentist), Menard's head warden, Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), and S. A. Godinez (Illinois Department of Corrections' ("IDOC") director). He also raises a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against the same defendants. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

The Complaint

While he was incarcerated at Menard in 2012, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied a soft diet (Doc. 1, p. 8). At the time, he had no upper teeth. Eating hard foods caused bleeding gums, chronic headaches, and excruciating pain. At times, Plaintiff could not eat at all.

On January 27, 2012, Plaintiff met with one of Menard's dentists, Dr. Overall. This dentist examined Plaintiff and prescribed him a soft diet. Dr. Overall renewed the prescription several times. However, Plaintiff claims that he never actually received soft food.[1] He allegedly directed multiple complaints about this issue to Menard's dental staff, Menard's head warden, and Springfield.

On May 21, 2012, Plaintiff met with a second dentist at Menard. The dentist, Dr. Henderson, noticed that Plaintiff's top gums "ha[d] not heal[ed], " and opined that Plaintiff "may need pre-prosthetic surgery for ridges in Area[s] #2, 5, 6, 10, [and] 11" (Doc. 1, p. 8). Dr. Henderson told Plaintiff that he would schedule a follow-up appointment with Plaintiff three months later. He never met with Plaintiff again, and an exhibit to the complaint indicates that two follow-up appointments were scheduled and subsequently cancelled because Menard was on lock-down at the time (Doc. 1-1, p. 8).

The complaint also alleges that a third dentist, Dr. Newbold, deprived Plaintiff of proper dental care. No specifics are provided in the complaint. However, Plaintiff claims that he named Dr. Newbold, along with the other two dentists, in several grievances. After filing multiple grievances, Plaintiff was transferred out of Menard.

Plaintiff now sues the three Menard dentists, Menard's head warden, IDOC Director Godinez, and Wexford for exhibiting deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff sues the same defendants under the Fourteenth Amendment for violating his right to equal protection of the law. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 9).

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 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).

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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility." Id. at 557. 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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). The complaint does not survive preliminary review under this standard.


Count 1 - Eighth Amendment Claim

The complaint articulates no viable Eighth Amendment claim (Count 1) for deliberate indifference to medical needs against any of the defendants. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment and is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. 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. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2006) ( per curiam ). To succeed on this claim, Plaintiff is required to show that: (1) he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) each individual ...

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