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Sloat v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 11, 2016

ROBERT ALLEN SLOAT, #09037-025, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Robert Sloat, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution located in Greenville, Illinois (“FCI-Greenville”), brings this pro se action against the United States of America and Department of Justice pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680 (Doc. 1). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was denied necessary dental surgery and dentures at FCI-Greenville for more than four years (Doc. 1, pp. 1-6). Federal officials were allegedly aware of Plaintiff's urgent dental needs and ignored them. As a result, he endured disfigurement, pain, bleeding gums and difficulty eating, among other things (id. at 6). Plaintiff now brings an FTCA claim based on the negligence and/or deliberate indifference of federal officials at FCI-Greenville (id. at 1-5). He seeks monetary relief (id.).

         Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         This matter is before the Court for 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 must 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). Plaintiff's Complaint does not survive screening under this standard and shall be dismissed.

         The Complaint

         On April 9, 2012, Plaintiff underwent a dental screening at FCI-Greenville (Doc. 1, p. 1). At the time, he was missing all thirty-two teeth (id. at 1-2). He suffered from disfigurement, headaches, bleeding gums and infection (id. at 1-2, 4). He also had difficulty chewing, swallowing and digesting food. Plaintiff complained about each of these problems to members of the staff in FCI-Greenville's Health Services Unit (“HSU”) many times (id. at 2).

         On June 6, 2012, Plaintiff received a recommendation for dentures. Before he could be fitted for a dental prosthesis, Plaintiff was told that he would need to undergo “tori removal and mandibular [a]nterior vestibuloplasty, ” a form of pre-prosthetic surgery (id.). Doctor Hartnagel met with Plaintiff to discuss the surgery on August 12, 2012. At this appointment, Doctor Hartnagel ordered radiographs. Plaintiff waited several months after the appointment to hear from Doctor Hartnagel, but he heard nothing from the dentist or anyone else in the HSU (id.).

         On December 11, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a written inquiry regarding the status of his case. Only then did Plaintiff learn that he had been placed on the waiting list for surgery and dentures. Almost three more years passed without surgery or dentures (id.).

         On August 7, 2015, Plaintiff again visited the HSU to discuss his dental concerns. At the appointment, he complained of continued difficulty chewing and eating. Plaintiff explained that he had been waiting for dentures for nearly four years (id.).

         On August 12, 2015, Doctor Hartnagel noted in Plaintiff's dental records that he needed “[b]ilateral [m]andibular, and [t]ori [r]emoval” along with “[m]andibular [a]nterior [v]estibuloplasty” (id.). On August 20, 2015, Doctor Swanson indicated that both procedures could be completed on the same day. Doctor Hartnagel's records from October 9, 2015, include a similar note. Plaintiff's case was referred to the regional office for approval (id. at 3). Surgery was tentatively scheduled for November 2, 2015 (id. at 2).

         On or around November 18, 2015, Plaintiff underwent what he describes as a “neurosurgery procedure” (id. at 3). At some point between November 2015 and July 2016, he underwent a second surgery. On July 7, 2016, he was finally provided with dentures. They did not initially fit and required some modification. Further, Plaintiff claims that he continued to experience serious dental problems through the date he filed this action (id.). However, he does not expand upon this statement. Plaintiff seeks only monetary damages (id. at 6).

         To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it appropriate to organize the claim in Plaintiff's pro se Complaint into the following enumerated count:

Count 1:Defendants, by and through the negligence or deliberate indifference of federal officials at FCI-Greenville, are liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680, for denying Plaintiff necessary dental care and dentures for a period of more than four years beginning in 2012.

         The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation does not ...

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