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McBridee v. Chapman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 6, 2017

EDWARD M. McBRIDE, Plaintiff,


          STEPHEN C. WILLIAMS United States Magistrate Judge


         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff, who was pro se at the time, filed his complaint alleging deliberate indifference against Defendants. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Nathan Chapman, Doug Simmons, and Brandi Little were deliberately indifferent in treating his serious medical needs, related to Plaintiff's teeth and dentures. This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Nathan Chapman and Bradi Little (Docs. 101 and 102). Plaintiff, now represented by counsel, has filed a response (Doc. 114). Defendants have filed a reply (Doc. 118). Defendant Doug Simmons has also filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 103 and 104) and Plaintiff has filed a response to that motion (Doc. 115). Based on the following, the Court GRANTS both motions for summary judgment.

         Factual Background

         On August 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging deliberate indifference related to treatment for his teeth and a denture that he received against Defendants (Doc. 1). As narrowed by the Court's threshold order (Doc. 8), Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Chapman took a persistent, yet ineffective, course of treatment when he provided Plaintiff with dentures instead of ordering corrective surgery for his gums, which suffered from excess bone and an undercut ridge (Doc. 8, p. 2). As a result of only being provided with dentures, Plaintiff was subjected to pain and could not eat because of the discomfort associated with the dentures. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Little failed to prescribe him with pain medication (Id.). Defendant Thomas Spiller, as warden at Pinckneyville, was left in the case in his official capacity only, for purposes of injunctive relief (Id. at p. 6). As Plaintiff was later transferred from Pinckneyville Correctional Center, Defendant Doug Simmons, was substituted as the proper defendant for injunctive relief, in place of Thomas Spiller (Docs. 86 and 89).

         While at Lawrence Correctional Center, in December 2011, Plaintiff had certain upper teeth extracted, including teeth #'s 2, 5, 6, 10, and 11 (Doc. 102-2; 102-1, p. 16). Plaintiff then transferred to Menard in January 2012 and saw the dentist on January 27, 2012 (Doc. 102-1, p. 14 and 16-17; 102-3; 102-4). Although Plaintiff requested dentures, he was told his gums had not yet healed (Doc. 102-1, p. 17). He was placed on a soft diet (Doc. 102-4, p. 1). Plaintiff testified that he did not receive dentures at Menard because the facility was also on lockdown (Doc. 102-1, p. 14). Plaintiff again was examined while at Menard on May 21, 2012 (Doc. 102-4, p. 1). The notes from that examination indicated that ridges were present in the area of extraction and were still sore to pressure (Id.). Plaintiff was told that he needed further healing and possible pre-prosthetic surgery (Id.). Plaintiff was to be evaluated in three months for an upper denture or possible surgery (Id.). Plaintiff's soft diet was continued (Id.).

         Plaintiff transferred to Pinckneyville Correctional Center on April 26, 2013 (Doc. 102-3, p. 2). Chapman first reviewed Plaintiff's records and x-rays on May 2, 2013 (Doc. 102-4, p. 1). Chapman saw Plaintiff on May 6, 2013 and noted that his gums had healed within normal limits and noted an undercut on his maxillary ridge, meaning he had excess bone in certain areas on his gum ridge (Id.; 102-5, p. 22). Plaintiff noted that he was not interested in a soft diet and testified that Pinckneyville's version of a soft diet bothered his gums (Doc. 102-4, p. 1; 102-1, p. 19-21). Plaintiff also complained that he had sharp bone edges on his gums, but Chapman indicated that the denture could be made to work with those (Doc. 102-1, p. 15). Chapman testified that Plaintiff was evaluated for whether Plaintiff needed a denture or first needed surgery to remove the excess bone, but Chapman felt confident that a denture could be made to work with Plaintiff's gums (Doc. 102-5, p. 22, 24). Chapman examined Plaintiff's gums, feeling the undercut and gum to determine healing (Id. at p. 22-23). Plaintiff was scheduled for denture impressions (Id. at p. 22).

         Chapman began the process of creating Plaintiff's dentures. On June 19, 2012, Plaintiff had an initial alginate impression of his upper gums, including the ridge (Doc. 102-5, p. 29; 102-4, p. 2). The shade, or color of his dentures, was noted at 62 to match his lower teeth (Doc. 102-5, p. 29-30; 102-4, p. 2). Chapman noted that those impressions were sent to a lab and that if the technician making the dentures felt it would be difficult to make a denture given the excess bone, the lab would have contacted the prison, but the lab did not contact Chapman (Doc. 102-5, p. 36-37). On July 1, 2013, Plaintiff had a “wax bite” to determine Plaintiff's bite (Doc. 102-5, p. 30; 102-4, p. 2). On July 17, 2013 Plaintiff was fitted with an initial set of dentures but the midline was off and the dentures were sent back for resetting (Doc. 102-5, p. 31; 102-4, p. 2). Chapman testified that this was either due to Plaintiff biting down wrong in the wax or a clinical error in marking Plaintiff's bite wrong (Doc. 102-5, p. 31). Chapman remarked the midline and sent the dentures back (Id.). Plaintiff was fitted with another denture on July 30, 2013 and Chapman noted that the set up was much better but that Plaintiff continued to bite down differently every time (Doc. 102-5, p. 32; 102-4, p. 2). Chapman testified that he believed this was due to the fact that Plaintiff had went without upper teeth for so long, making it hard for him to bite down correctly (Doc. 102-5, p. 32). Plaintiff was happy with the setup and the appearance, however, and the denture was sent back to the lab for finalizing (Doc. 102-5, p. 33; 102-4, p. 2). Plaintiff was provided with a soft diet throughout the fitting process (Doc. 102-5, p. 28-33).

         Plaintiff received his dentures on August 14, 2013 (Doc. 102-4, p. 2). Plaintiff complained that the dentures were hurting certain areas of his mouth and marked the locations (Doc. 102-1, p. 20). Chapman noted on August 26, 2013 that there were undercuts and adjustments were necessary to get the dentures to go around the undercuts (Doc. 102-5, p. 33; 102-4, p. 2). Chapman testified that the undercuts were places where Plaintiff had a little bit more bone and that Plaintiff had excess bone growths on the right and left sides, towards the back of his mouth (Id. at p. 34). The dentures pushed on those areas, causing soreness (Id.). Chapman testified that he made the adjustments with a slow-speed drill in order to get the denture around the excess bone (Id. at 33-34, 38). Chapman testified that adjustments were quite common for new dentures because as the dentures settle, there are spots that will rub the gum and require adjusting (Id. at 33). The medical notes indicate that Plaintiff felt the dentures were a lot better (Doc. 102-4, p. 2). Chapman testified that if the dentures did not ultimately work, he would either order new dentures or go to the next step (Doc. 102-5, p. 36).

         Plaintiff testified that the first time the dentures were put in, the dentures pressed on his gums and caused pain (Doc. 102-1, p. 26). Plaintiff told Chapman the dentures did not feel right, but Chapman told him he would have to get used to them (Id. at p. 27). Plaintiff testified that he only wore the dentures the one time and that he did not wear them after that (Id. at p. 21). Plaintiff testified that when he put the dentures back in the second time, after Chapman made some adjustments, the dentures hurt his gums and he stopped wearing them (Id. at p. 26-27). Plaintiff filed a grievance on August 15, 2013, indicating he received his dentures on August 14, 2013 and it was causing him “excruciating pain” (Doc. 114-3, p. 11).

         After August 26, 2013, Chapman testified that he set Plaintiff to be seen at Plaintiff's request, which would be done by Plaintiff submitting a written request for adjustment (Doc. 102-5, p. 39). Plaintiff requested an adjustment because his bite was off on the left side (Id.). Plaintiff was seen on September 11, 2013 (Doc. 102-4, p. 2). Chapman adjusted the dentures again (Id.). Chapman testified that adjustments are a process that has to be done slowly as once a piece of the denture is shaved off, it cannot be replaced (Doc. 102-5, p. 40). The area has to be slowly taken down until it fits comfortably and if too much is taken off, the dentures will not fit properly (Id.). Chapman saw Plaintiff again on September 19, 2013 (Doc. 102-4, p. 2). Adjustments were made to the left back of the dentures as Plaintiff indicated he was biting his cheek (Doc. 102-5, p. 40). Plaintiff was specifically biting a saliva gland duct (Id.). Chapman again adjusted the denture so that Plaintiff was not biting his cheek (Id.). Chapman ordered Plaintiff's soft diet to continue for two additional weeks but counseled Plaintiff that he needed to get used to the dentures (Id.). Plaintiff was scheduled to be seen only at Plaintiff's request (Id.).

         On November 5, 2013 Plaintiff wrote a kite indicating that he was still have troubles with his denture and was seen by Chapman (Doc. 102-4, p. 3; 102-5, p. 42). However, Plaintiff forgot his dentures and the appointment was rescheduled for November 7, 2013 (Id.). Plaintiff was seen again on November 7, 2013 and Chapman adjusted the pallet portion of the denture and Plaintiff indicated that it felt better (Id.). Plaintiff, admittedly, made no requests for adjustments after November 2013 (Doc. 114-2, p. 1). Chapman did not receive any further requests from Plaintiff regarding his dentures (Doc. 102-5, p. 42).

         Plaintiff testified he did not contact Chapman was because the dentures were destroyed (Id.). Plaintiff testified that he stopped wearing them after the second time because they kept hurting (Doc. 102-1, p. 27). He made a request to see Chapman and Chapman kept sanding on them (Id.). Plaintiff testified that he sanded them down so much that they didn't fit well (Id. at p. 28). Plaintiff testified when Chapman would sand one side down, that side would then be okay, but the sanding would cause problems on the other side of the denture and that it kept going back and forth from side to side (Id. at p. 28). Plaintiff testified that after a side was sanded it would feel okay for a minute but then the other side would not be right (Id. at p. 29).

         Plaintiff next saw Chapman on May 20, 2014 for a toothache (Doc. 102-4, p. 3). The tooth was ultimately extracted (Doc. 102-4, p. 3; 102-5, p. 43). Plaintiff was seen on June 10, 2014 for a denture adjustment but Plaintiff forgot the denture and the appointment was rescheduled (Doc. 102-4, p. 3; 102-5, p. 45). Plaintiff was seen again on June 16, 2014 but at that time Plaintiff indicated that the denture was fine and signed a refusal of treatment (Id.). Plaintiff refused a two-year exam on November 24, 2014 (Doc. 102-4, p. 3). He transferred to Jacksonville on July 22, 2015 (Doc. 56). Plaintiff was seen for a denture adjustment on March 4, 2016 and asked for a soft diet (Doc. 102-4, p. 3). It was noted that the palatal surface ...

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