United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently
incarcerated at Vandalia Correctional Center
(“Vandalia”), has brought this pro se
action claiming that Dr. Overall, the prison dentist,
mishandled the extraction of his tooth. As a result,
Plaintiff is experiencing constant pain. Surgery to correct
the problem is being delayed. While Plaintiff did not label
his Complaint as a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, his factual allegations support a liberal construction
of his pleading to include a claim under § 1983. See
Donald v. Cook Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d
548, 555 (7th Cir. 1996). The Complaint is now before the
Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
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).
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 “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on
its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations
as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th
Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or
implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a
plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not
accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a
cause of action or conclusory legal statements.”
Id. At the same time, however, the factual
allegations of a pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
labels this action as a claim for medical malpractice. (Doc.
1, p. 1). On April 7, 2017, he went to the prison dentist to
have several teeth extracted. Dr. Overall told him six teeth
needed to be pulled. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff asked her to
pull three that day and the remaining three later, but she
said she could not do that because it was “against
policy.” Id. Overall had difficulty with the
final tooth and had to give Plaintiff extra Novocain.
Plaintiff claims that she mishandled the last tooth
extraction because she was tired.
April 12, 2017, Plaintiff returned for a follow-up visit
because he was still having pain in his mouth. Overall
examined him and immediately said that she would have to cut
into his gums to remove a broken bone from the sixth tooth
that had been extracted.
is having great difficulty eating and talking due to the
constant pain from the broken bone, which is resting on a
put Plaintiff back on the list to have surgery. (Doc. 1, p.
6). Plaintiff states there is “no telling” how
long he must wait for the surgery, but then notes that
“I have to be in pain . . . all the way two [sic]
6-7-17.” Id. Overall gave Plaintiff ibuprofen
for the pain, but his supply ran out and in order to get more
pain medication, he must go to the health care unit and pay
$5.00 each time.
claims that if Overall had not been constrained by the policy
that required her to pull all his teeth at once, she would
not have botched the final extraction, and he would not have
suffered the problems he is now having. He accuses the
Department of Corrections of taking short cuts in providing
dental care because of lack of money. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 8).
relief, Plaintiff seeks an order requiring Defendants to
provide him with “immediate surgery.” (Doc. 1, p.
7). He also requests punitive damages. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into the
following counts. The parties and the Court will use these
designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as
to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Dental malpractice/negligence claim
against Overall under Illinois state law for mishandling the
extraction of Plaintiff's tooth, leaving a broken bone