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Bridgeman v. Wexford Healthcare Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 7, 2015

BERNARD BRIDGEMAN, # M-21709, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTHCARE COMPANY, DR. O'BRIEN, and DR. GARCIA, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving sentences of 14 years and seven years on two firearm offenses. He claims that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious dental condition.

In his complaint, Plaintiff explains that on May 2, 2012, he underwent oral surgery at a facility outside the prison to remove a tumor (Doc. 1, p. 5). The surgeon (Dr. Jay Swanson, who is not a defendant) removed eight of Plaintiff's teeth and some bone along with the tumor. Dr. Swanson advised Plaintiff that after his mouth healed, he would have implants and a bone graft. The implants would secure the bone graft over the long term, and without the implants, a bone graft could shrink or fall out if pressure is applied. However, when the time came for Plaintiff to have this follow-up surgery, Defendant Wexford denied authorization for the implants.

Plaintiff attaches a copy of his September 11, 2013, grievance (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11), in which he indicates that the bone graft surgery was approved, but the implants were not allowed. Plaintiff noted that 16 months had passed since his original surgery, he was still without teeth, he had no bone in his mouth, he was in pain, his chin was still swelling up, eating was painful, and his gums still had not healed (Doc. 1, p. 11). A grievance response dated March 31, 2014, states that Plaintiff "had a follow-up on 3/28/14 for his oral surgery (bone grafting) done by Dr. Swanson in February 2014. Dental also stated that they have a partial for him when his mouth is healed from the surgery." (Doc. 1, p. 9).

In addition to bringing suit against Wexford Healthcare Company ("Wexford"), the contractor that provides health care to inmates, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Dr. O'Brien (a Wexford employee) was one of the doctors who denied the requested treatment. Defendant Dr. Garcia is described as the "head physician" who made the final decision regarding Plaintiff's dental treatment (Doc. 1, p. 2). It appears that neither of these individual Defendants was located at Lawrence.

As relief, Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief requiring Defendants to give Plaintiff the dental implants (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious dental condition, against Defendants O'Brien and Garcia, for delaying approval of Plaintiff's bone graft surgery;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious dental condition, against Defendants O'Brien and Garcia, for denying permission for Plaintiff to obtain implants;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical condition, against Defendant Wexford Healthcare Company, for delaying approval of Plaintiff's bone graft surgery and/or withholding approval of his dental implants.

As shall be discussed below, Counts 1 and 2 shall proceed for further review against the individual Defendant physicians. Count 3 shall be dismissed without prejudice for failure ...


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