United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge
McDowell is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections ("IDOC") at Stateville
Correctional Center in Illinois. He alleges that IDOC staff
were deliberately indifferent to his dental needs in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. R. 26. Specifically,
McDowell has sued Stateville's former Warden, Marcus
Hardy; Stateville's former Warden, Tarry Williams; former
IDOC Director, Salvadore Godinez; and former IDOC Medical
Director, Dr. Louis Shicker, and alleges that they are
responsible for the IDOC's policy against performing root
canals on posterior teeth (i.e., molars). See Id.
Defendants have moved for summary judgment. R. 72. For the
following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.
Standard Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The Court
considers the entire evidentiary record and must view all of
the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from that
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.
Ball v. Kotter, 123 F.3d 813, 821 (7th Cir. 2013).
To defeat summary judgment, a nonmovant must produce more
than "a mere scintilla of evidence" and come
forward with "specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial." Harris N.A. v.
Hershey, 711 F.3d 794, 798 (7th Cir. 2013). Ultimately,
summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could
not return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
2012, McDowell experienced pain and decay in two of his
molars (## 13 and 14). He filed grievances seeking a dental
examination and sent a letter to Warden Hardy in March 2012.
See R. 26-1 at 1-2. He was examined by Dr. Kenneth
Brooks, D.D.S., on September 12 and 26, 2012, and provided
with pain management treatment. R. 82 ¶ 16.
continued to experience tooth pain and decay. He submitted a
grievance on October 1, 2012, see R. 26-1 at 3, and
sent a letter to Warden Hardy on October 7, 2012, see
Id. at 4, but he does not know whether Warden Hardy
received the letter. R. 82 ¶ 23. McDowell submitted a
dental treatment request on November 1, 2012. Id.
was seen by a dentist on November 20, 2012, who recommended
extraction of tooth #14, which McDowell refused. Id.
¶¶ 25-26. McDowell saw Dr. Brooks again on March 8,
2013, who also recommended that tooth #14 be extracted, which
McDowell again refused because he wanted a root canal
instead. Id. ¶ 30.
of tooth #13 was also recommended at dental visits on July
17, 2013, and August 2, 2013. Id. ¶¶
31-32. McDowell eventually consented to extraction of tooth
#13 on September 20, 2013. Id. ¶ 36. McDowell
testified that the extraction relieved his pain. R. 74-2 at
point thereafter, McDowell again began experiencing pain in
tooth #14. On July 9, 2014, he had an appointment with a
dentist who recommended extraction of tooth #14 even though
it was "asymptomatic." R. 82 ¶¶ 38-39.
McDowell refused extraction. Id. ¶ 40.
August 7, 2014, an IDOC grievance officer filed a report
regarding McDowell's grievance seeking a root canal
rather than extraction of tooth #14. R. 81-3. The grievance
officer denied McDowell's grievance because "root
canals are performed on the front teeth and canine teeth
only per IDOC policy. Id. (emphasis added).
Warden Williams signed this report. Id. Dr. Brooks
also testified that it was against IDOC policy to perform
root canals on molars. R. 81-4 at 6 (19:18-20:1, 17-22); 16
(60:11-14); 17 (65:8-11).
seeks damages in compensation "for the pain arising from
the intentional unavailability of appropriate medical
treatment, " i.e., a root canal. R. 26 at 7. "A
plaintiff bringing a civil rights action must prove that the
defendant personally participated in or caused the
unconstitutional actions." Grieueson v.
Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 776 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Alejo v. Heller, 328 F.3d 930, 936 (7th Cir. 2003)).
A plaintiffs allegations against a prison official can only
satisfy "the personal responsibility requirement of
Section 1983 if the conduct causing the constitutional
deprivation occurs at [the official's] direction or with
his knowledge and consent." Arnett v. Webster,
658 F.3d 742, 757 (7th Cir. 2011). "That is, [the
official] must know about the conduct and facilitate it,
approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye."
Id. "In short, some causal connection or
affirmative link between the action complained about and the
official sued is necessary for § 1983 recovery."
Id. Thus, although a prison official is
"entitled to relegate to the prison's medical staff
the provision of good medical care, " Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595 (7th Cir. 2009),
"nonmedical officials can be chargeable with . . .
deliberate indifference where they have a reason to believe
(or actual knowledge) that prison doctors or their assistants
are mistreating (or not treating) a prisoner."
Arnett, 658 F.3d at 755.
has not presented any evidence that Director Godinez or Dr.
Shicker were personally involved in his treatment. With
respect to Director Godinez, McDowell argues only that he
"is expected to know and understand the policies and
procedures of the IDOC because he is the ultimate decision
maker when it comes to the grievance process." R. 79 at
9. Similarly, McDowell argues that Dr. Shicker
"effectively endorsed the policy by failing to permit
the treating dentist to consider whether even an endodontic
examination was appropriate." Id. To the extent
Director Godinez and Dr. Shicker were, or should have been,
aware of a policy against performing root canals on molars,
there is no evidence that they had any knowledge of this
policy's application to McDowell. Both of them are IDOC
officials and do not ...