United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MICHAEL J. COOK, M18612, Plaintiff,
DR. L. OVERALL, DR. HENDERSON, DR. NEWBOLD and UNKNOWN PARTY, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. DALY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a prisoner civil rights lawsuit involving dental care.
Plaintiff Michael Cook is an inmate within the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) prison system
and the incidents that give rise to this litigation occurred
at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Cook
asserts that in 2011 through 2013 the Defendants provided him
with inadequate treatment for his incoming wisdom teeth.
Defendant Dr. Henderson is a dentist employed by IDOC.
Defendants Dr. Overall and Dr. Newbold are dentists employed
by Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”).
Wexford is a contractor that provides healthcare services to
IDOC inmates. Cook initially filed suit pro se but
he has since been recruited counsel. All three Defendants now
seek summary judgment. (Docs. 57 and 59). The motions are
opposed. (Docs. 61 and 62). The Wexford Defendants also filed
a reply (Doc. 63) to Cook's response in opposition. For
the following reasons, the motions for summary judgment are
presented with a motion for summary judgment, all factual
disputes and reasonable inferences are to be drawn in favor
of the nonmoving party (i.e., Cook). United States v.
Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 994, 8
L.Ed.2d 176 (1962). With that standard in mind, we turn to
the facts of the case. Cook was born in 1990 and he entered
IDOC custody in early 2011. (Cook Deposition, Doc. 58-1, p.
5). Shortly thereafter he was placed at Menard. (Doc. 58-1,
p. 6). Sometime around May or June of 2011, Cook's bottom
left wisdom tooth started to come in. (Doc. 58-1, p. 8). As a
result, he began to experience pain and discomfort.
Id. Cook submitted request slips to be seen at the
prison Health Care Unit (“HCU”), and on June 22,
2011 he was examined by Dr. Overall, a dentist at Menard.
(Doc. 58-1, p. 10). Cook told Dr. Overall that his tooth was
causing him pain, headaches and that he thought it should be
pulled. (Doc. 58-1, p. 13) . Dr. Overall observed Cook's
teeth and told him that his wisdom tooth was cutting through
the gum. (Doc. 58-1, p. 14). Dr. Overall provided Cook with
some pain medication and antibiotics and told him to gargle
with salt water. Id. She also told Cook to submit
another request slip if he would like to have the tooth
pulled. Id. Cook then left the HCU and had no
further interaction with Dr. Overall.
next dental examination occurred 16 months later on October
25, 2012. (Doc. 58-1, p. 18). After submitting multiple
request slips (Cook states in a grievance form that he
submitted at least four or five, see Doc. 1-1, p.
73), Cook was examined by Dr. Henderson on this date.
Id. Dr. Henderson's medical records from the
examination note that Cook complained that his gum was sore
and that “I need my tooth out.” (Doc. 58-2, p.
3). Dr. Henderson observed, “#17 [tooth] partially
erupted … tissue red / swollen no drainage [.]”
He diagnosed the tooth as “Pericornitic” [sic].
Id. Dr. Henderson notes under “P” (Plan)
that he will “start referral for on site oral surgery
#17.” Id. He also issued Cook prescriptions
for Amoxicillin and Motrin (ibuprofen). Id. On
November 6, 2012 Dr. Newbold examined Cook. (Doc. 58-1, p.
19). Cook explained the tooth problems he was having to Dr.
Newbold, and Dr. Newbold told Cook that he was going to refer
him to an oral surgeon. (Doc. 58-1, p. 21). On November 9,
2012 “Pan Oral X-rays” were taken. (Doc. 58-2, p.
3). There was no further dental treatment until the following
approved the oral surgeon referral and on January 9, 2013 the
oral surgeon, Dr. Craig, performed an
“operculectomy.” (Doc. 58-4, p. 2). Dr. Newbold
states in an affidavit attached to his motion for summary
An operculectomy is a procedure wherein local anesthesia is
applied and a split is placed in the gum over an emerging
tooth to assist the tooth in emerging. Dr. Craig wrote orders
for Motrin and Penicillin at the conclusion of the procedure.
It is customary to wait some period of time after the
performance of an operculectomy to watch the emerging tooth
come in and see if it going to cause problems. Operculectomy
procedures are often performed before resorting to tooth
extraction as wisdom tooth extraction can cause damage to the
nerves that control movement and sensation in the lips.
Id. Following the procedure, Dr. Craig provided Cook
with some antibiotics and painkillers. (Doc. 58-1, p. 23).
operculectomy was not as successful as they had hoped, and
Cook continued to experience pain and discomfort from the
tooth. Cook was later scheduled for a follow up appointment
with Dr. Henderson on March 14, 2013. (Doc. 58-1, p. 24). Due
to the prison being on lockdown, the examination was delayed
until March 18. Id. At the examination Cook told Dr.
Henderson that he was still experiencing problems with the
wisdom tooth and that he was in a great deal of pain. (Doc.
58-1, p. 25). Dr. Henderson provided him with more medication
(antibiotics and painkillers), and made another request to
have Cook seen by an oral surgeon. Id.
approved the referral (see Doc. 58-2, p. 8), and on
April 4, 2013, Cook's wisdom tooth was pulled by Dr.
Swanson, an off-site oral surgeon. (Doc. 58-2, p. 9). Cook
returned to Menard and later that day he underwent a follow
up examination by Dr. Henderson. (Doc. 58-2, p. 5). Dr.
Henderson's notes state; “4/4/13 [at] 2:30 PM[.]
Exam - Pt. returned from Dr. Swanson's office. Had #17
removed. Pt. doing well (still numb) - Rx Motrin 200mg x 48
[and] Amoxicillin 500mg x 30[.] Eval 1 wk.”
Id. On April 11, 2013 Dr. Henderson removed a suture
from the site of the (now pulled) wisdom tooth. Id.
Dr. Henderson also noted that Cook was “healing
W.N.L.” (within normal limits) and “doing
Dr. Overall and Dr. Newbold submitted affidavits with their
motion for summary judgment. Dr. Overall states in her
affidavit that she only provided dental services to Cook on
June 22, 2011. (Doc. 58-3, p. 2). At the examination Cook
complained of pain from an incoming wisdom tooth.
Id. Dr. Overall states that Cook actually complained
of pain in his lower right wisdom tooth, and not the lower
left. Id. At the conclusion of the examination she
prescribed Motrin and Penicillin, and told Cook to
“contact the dental department again if his problems
persisted.” Id. She also states in her
Emerging wisdom teeth can cause some pain and discomfort,
though it can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain
medications and antibiotics. Wisdom teeth do not
“automatically” need to be extracted as, after
they have fully emerged, many cause no problems whatsoever.
It is customary to observe the emerging tooth and look for
problems. Wisdom teeth are generally only extracted if they
are, in fact, causing problems. There is no need to extract
them if they are not causing problems.
(Doc. 58-3, pp. 2-3). Finally, Dr. Overall notes that,
“[a]fter the June 22, 2011 examination, Mr. Cook had no
contact with the Dental Department for more than 16
months.” (Doc. 58-3, p. 2).
Newbold states in his affidavit that he has been the chief
dentist at Menard since March 1, 2012. (Doc. 58-4, p. 1). Dr.
Newbold disputes Cook's deposition testimony and states
that he “never personally examined Cook nor spoke
directly with him.” Id. Dr. Newbold also
states in his affidavit that he processed the paperwork for
Cook to be referred to the oral surgeons. (Doc. 58-4, p. 2).
Wexford utilizes a “collegial review” process
where individual healthcare practitioners must receive
corporate approval before sending inmates to see specialists,
have surgeries performed, etc. Id. Both of
Cook's oral surgeon visits went through the collegial
review approval process. Id. Dr. Newbold notes ...