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Sloat v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 6, 2017

ROBERT ALLEN SLOAT, #09037-025, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Now before the Court for consideration is the First Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Robert Sloat. (Docs. 9, 9-1, 9-2). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution located in Greenville, Illinois (“FCI-Greenville”). He brings this action against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied necessary dental surgery and dentures for more than 4 years at FCI-Greenville, and that federal officials allegedly knew of and disregarded his urgent dental needs (Doc. 9-2, pp. 1-9). Plaintiff now seeks monetary damages against the United States for the negligence and/or deliberate indifference of these officials. (Doc. 9, p. 6).

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         First Amended Complaint

         The factual allegations offered in support of the First Amended Complaint are set forth in an exhibit that Plaintiff refers to as a “Brief” in his Statement of Claim (Doc. 9, p. 5) and as a “Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint” on the face of the exhibit (Doc. 9-2, pp. 1-6). Plaintiff alleges that he underwent a dental screening at FCI-Greenville on April 9, 2012. (Doc. 9-2, pp. 1-2). “Health Services” determined that he was missing all 32 teeth and was also suffering from bleeding and infected gums. Id. Plaintiff indicated that he suffered from pain and problems chewing, swallowing and digesting food. Id.

         On June 6, 2012, Plaintiff received a recommendation for a form of pre-prosthetic surgery referred to as “tori removal and mandibular [a]nterior vestibuloplasty.” (Doc. 9-2, p. 2). On August 12, 2012, Doctor Hartnagel ordered radiographs, recommended removal of the mandibular “bilateral, ” and requested further pre-prosthetic evaluation. Id. Months passed without further treatment. Id. On December 11, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a written inquiry regarding the status of his case and indicated that he was still waiting for oral surgery and dentures. Id. Years passed without surgery or dentures.

         On August 7, 2015, Plaintiff returned to Health Services. (Doc. 9-2, p. 2). During the appointment, he complained of continued difficulty chewing and eating. Id. Plaintiff explained that he had been waiting for dentures for nearly 4 years. Id.

         On August 12, 2015, the Chief Dental Officer once again determined that Plaintiff needed “[b]ilateral [m]andibular, and [t]ori [r]emoval” along with “[m]andibular [a]nterior [v]estibuloplasty.” (Doc. 9-2, p. 2). Surgery was tentatively scheduled for November 2, 2015. Id. Plaintiff's dental records from that date reveal the same diagnosis as the one he received on June 6, 2012. (Doc. 9-2, p. 3). Doctor Hartnagel's records include a similar note dated October 9, 2015. Id. On the same date, Plaintiff's case was finally referred to the regional office for approval. Id. On or around November 18, 2015, Plaintiff underwent a “neurosurgery procedure.” Id. At some point between November 2015 and July 2016, he underwent a second surgery that Doctor Swanson originally said Plaintiff could undergo at the same time as his first surgery. Id.

         Plaintiff finally received dentures on July 7, 2016. (Doc. 9-2, p. 3). However, they did not fit and required modification. Id. Plaintiff's dentures have since caused ...


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