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Gray v. Carter

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 27, 2015

DOIAKAH GRAY, Plaintiff,


GARY FEINERMAN, District Judge.

In this pro se suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Doiakah Gray, an inmate at the Illinois Department of Corrections, claims that Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment by being deliberately indifferent to his alleged temporomandibular joint disorder ("TMJD"), a condition that causes pain in the jaw joint. Doc. 1. The two sets of defendants-State Defendants (Jacqueline Mitchell-Lawshea, a dentist; Steven Fischman, also a dentist; Joe Sheehy, a medical technician; Marcus Hardy, the prison's warden; and Darryl Edwards, the assistant warden), and Wexford Defendants (Imhotep Carter, a physician; and Wexford Health Sources, Inc., his employer)-have moved for summary judgment. Docs. 93, 98. State Defendants' motion is granted, and Wexford Defendants' motion is denied.


The facts are set forth as favorably to Gray, the non-movant, as the record and Local Rule 56.1 permit. See Hanners v. Trent, 674 F.3d 683, 691 (7th Cir. 2012). On summary judgment, the court must assume the truth of these facts, but does not vouch for them. See Smith v. Bray, 681 F.3d 888, 892 (7th Cir. 2012).

Gray is an inmate housed at Stateville Correctional Center. Doc. 127 at p. 1, ¶ 1. Mitchell and Fischman were Stateville dentists at all relevant times, id. at p. 2, ¶¶ 2-3, and Sheehy was a medical technician there, id. at p. 2, ¶ 4. Hardy and Edwards were the prison's warden and assistant warden, respectively. Id. at p. 2, ¶¶ 5-6. Gray first began experiencing jaw pain in 1999; a doctor prescribed him pain medication, which was effective so long as he took it. Id. at pp. 3-4, ¶ 9. In 2001, a dentist diagnosed Gray with bruxism (grinding of the teeth) and malocclusion (a misaligned bite), and prescribed a fitted bite guard. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 10. Gray also underwent equilibration, which means his teeth were filed down to help align his bite. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 11. Over the next ten years or so, Gray saw numerous doctors, dentists, and oral surgeons, to whom he complained about jaw pain, headaches, head spasms, and migraines, and who in aggregate ordered three more fitted bite guards; prescribed Tylenol, other pain relievers, and muscle relaxants; and removed four teeth. Id. at pp. 5-8, ¶¶ 13-22.

One of those dentists was Mitchell, who first saw Gray in 2008. Id. at p. 7, ¶ 20. On April 11 of that year, Gray complained to Mitchell of jaw pain; Mitchell thought it was caused by a particular molar, and so referred Gray to an oral surgeon, who removed the offending tooth. Ibid. On May 30, 2008, Mitchell saw Gray again, and she prescribed a new bite guard. Id. at pp. 7-8, ¶ 21. Gray alleges that he told Mitchell in June and August that he continued to experience headaches and jaw pain and that the night guards were not helping, Doc. 137 at ¶¶ 20-21, although these complaints are not reflected in any medical or dental records. On September 30, 2008, Gray saw Mitchell about his TMJ pain and he requested orthodontics, which she (correctly) said was unavailable to Illinois inmates. Id. at ¶ 22. Gray claims that Mitchell told him he would not receive any treatment beyond a night guard because TMJ is a non-treatable condition. Ibid.

On February 14, 2011, Gray requested an appointment to see Mitchell about his deteriorating TMJ condition, but she refused to see him. Doc. 127 at p. 22, ¶ 23. The dental records attached to Gray's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts, however, show that an appointment was scheduled for March 7, 2011, and later rescheduled for April 6, when defendant Steven Fischman, also a dentist, treated him. Doc. 127 at 39. Fischman treated Gray on at least three occasions in 2010 and 2011, but told Gray in response to his requests for TMJD treatment that he (Fischman) did not treat TMJD. Doc. 137 at ¶¶ 44-45. Gray asserts that Fischman "refused to provide" pain medication to help with his pain, headaches, migraines, and head spasms; yet Gray admitted in his deposition that he did not recall even asking Fischman for pain medication. Id. at ¶ 46; Doc. 95-5 at 30.

Gray saw Mitchell for a bi-annual exam on December 2, 2011, when he complained about his deteriorating TMJD; Mitchell prescribed a new night guard and pain medication. Doc. 127 at p. 22, ¶ 25; id. at p. 9, ¶ 26. On December 14, Mitchell fitted Gray for a new night guard, which he received (along with more pain medication) on January 20, 2012. Id. at p. 9, ¶¶ 26-27. Gray told Mitchell that he wanted to see a TMJD specialist, but Mitchell told him that only Carter, the prison's medical director (and Wexford employee), could refer him to an outside specialist. Ibid.; id. at pp. 23-24, ¶¶ 27-28.

Gray had previously written a letter to Carter dated September 19, 2011, in which he requested TMJD treatment; Carter, however, does not recall having received it. Doc. 130 at pp. 19-20, ¶ 59. Gray saw Carter only once, on March 9, 2012, two months after he filed this lawsuit. Id. at pp. 18-19, ¶ 58. Gray says that he complained about his chronic TMJ pain and asked Carter for a referral to an outside TMJD specialist. Ibid. Carter avers that he understood Gray to have "received and [been] continu[ing] to receive treatment related to his complaints of pain in the area of his TMJ" at Stateville, and that "if in my opinion as Stateville's medical director" he believed that an inmate "cannot be properly treated... at Stateville, " he would refer the inmate to an outside facility for treatment. Id. at pp. 20-21, ¶ 61; Doc. 100-1 at p. 2, ¶ 8. Carter further avers that when he saw Gray, he "did not find any condition related to [Gray's] TMJ that necessitated a referral to a community medical facility." Ibid. In fact, Carter denies that Gray even mentioned TMJD at the March 9 visit. Id. at p. 2, ¶¶ 6-7. By contrast, Gray avers that Carter told him that "his [TMJ symptoms] would not be addressed at this medical visit because it is a difficult problem to treat." Doc. 127 at p. 137, ¶ 40.

Meanwhile, from 2007 to 2011, Gray sought treatment from non-party Latanya Williams, a Wexford physician assistant, twelve or thirteen times. Doc. 130 at pp. 9, 11-15, ¶¶ 29-31, 36-52; Doc. 100-3 at pp. 1-3, ¶¶ 5-15 (Williams's affidavit). On at least eleven of those occasions, the medical records do not indicate that Gray complained about TMJ pain. Doc. 130 at pp. 12-15, ¶¶ 40-52. Gray variously complained of "abdominal cramping, " id. at p. 12, ¶ 40; "blood rushing to his head [and] heart palpitations, " id. at p. 12, ¶ 41; "pain in his right thigh secondary to an injury he suffered during a game of kickball, " id. at p. 12, ¶ 42; "a restrained right thigh" due to the same injury and "frequent urination, " id. at pp. 12-13, ¶ 43; continuing "urinary tract symptoms, " id. at p. 13, ¶¶ 44-45; "abdominal symptoms, " id. at pp. 13-14, ¶ 46; a hurt "left pinkie" finger, id. at p. 14, ¶ 47; "heart palpitations [and] that his left knee locks up from time to time and pops, " id. at pp. 14-15, ¶ 49; "heart palpitations" again, id. at p. 15, ¶ 50; and foot fungus, id. at p. 15, ¶¶ 51-52. (As for Gray's foot fungus, see Gray v. Ghosh, 2013 WL 5497250 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 3, 2013).) Gray raised documented TMJ concerns only on February 17, 2010, when he reported having "spasms in his right temple" and "grind[ing] his teeth." Id. at p. 14, ¶ 47. (Williams and the Wexford Defendants mistakenly say "April 17, " but the medical records show that the visit was actually on February 17. Doc. 100-3 at 13.) Williams prescribed anti-inflammatory pain medication and recommended a follow-up. Doc. 130 at pp. 14, ¶ 47. On March 17, when Gray complained that he had not yet received his previously prescribed medication, Williams resubmitted the prescriptions. Id. at p. 14, ¶ 48. But Gray "disputes he was seen by Williams on... March 17, 2010 only to receive medication. [Gray] was reporting his TMJ pain as [she] told him to do if it continued." Ibid. (emphasis added). All told, in at least twelve visits over four years, Gray complained to Williams about TMJ pain at most twice, in response to which Williams prescribed (and then re-prescribed) him pain medication. Id. at pp. 9, 11-15, ¶¶ 29-31, 36-52.

In late 2011, Gray filed six separate grievances demanding TMJD treatment: on August 25, October 4, October 13, October 20, December 23, and December 24, 2011. Doc. 137 at ¶¶ 4, 30, 42; Doc. 141 at ¶ 29; Doc. 130 at 66-73 (copies of grievances). At least two of these grievances mention Carter by name, and Carter was required to review all inmate medical grievances. Doc. 141 at ¶ 13. Carter, however, denies having ever seen those grievances. Id. at ¶ 29; Doc. 100-1 at p. 2, ¶¶ 6-7.

Gray also asserts that he spoke to Sheehy, the medical technician, "numerous times" to ask to be placed on "sick call, " but Sheehy never complied. Doc. 137 at ¶ 40. As noted above, however, it is undisputed that throughout 2010 and 2011, Gray consistently received medical and dental treatment from Mitchell, Fischman, and Williams.


I. State ...

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