United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge
matter was severed on May 31, 2017, from Knox v. Butler,
et al., Case No. 17-cv-494-SMY, pursuant to Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 20(b) and 21 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff is
an inmate at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”), where he is serving a life sentence.
His pro se action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The dental deliberate indifference claim severed
into this case was designated as Count 5 in the original
action, and is described as follows:
Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to serious
dental needs, against Mall, Laing, Marshall, Chatten, Tripp,
Williams, Gregson, Megee, Osemeyer, Ron, Oswald, Suzy,
Martha, Brenda, Keisha, Shellby, Nurse John Doe #3, Lee,
McWilliams, Lashbrooks, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc., for
denying and delaying care for Knox's abscessed and
infected tooth, in April and May 2017.
1, p. 6). The portion of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 2)
setting forth the facts relevant to this claim is now before
the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Along with the First Amended Complaint,
Plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 3),
which seeks an order requiring Defendants to provide care for
Plaintiff's mouth infection.
§ 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.
5 of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 2)
claim arose on April 23, 2017. (Doc. 2, pp. 19-39). Plaintiff
began having problems with one of his front teeth, and
submitted a request for urgent dental care. Plaintiff takes
insulin shots and oral medication (Metformin) for diabetes
twice each day, and takes blood pressure medication daily.
(Doc. 2, p. 19). Over the next several days, Plaintiff's
tooth became very painful when he tried to eat, talk, or
brush his teeth. The pain caused him to lose sleep, and
interfered with his daily activities. His breath became very
bad due to his inability to brush his teeth normally.
Plaintiff's mouth became infected and he was spitting out
blood and pus daily. (Doc. 2, p. 20). The tooth became loose
and was dangling in his mouth. On April 30, 2017, Plaintiff
woke up around 2:00 a.m. to find blood all over his pillow.
He submitted another medical request for urgent dental care.
the ensuing weeks, Plaintiff submitted additional medical
requests as his condition deteriorated. His mouth continued
to leak blood and pus constantly. His pain got worse every
time he tried to eat, talk, or brush his other teeth.
Plaintiff showed his dangling tooth and described his
symptoms to numerous nurses who came to his cell, and he
asked them for pain medication.
nurses, each of whom refused to help Plaintiff or give him
anything for his pain, include Shellby (on April 30 and May
10, 13, and 15, 2017), Laing (on May 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, and
16, 2017), Tripp (on May 5, 2017), Martha (on May 5, 6, and
12, 2017), Brenda (on May 6 and 14, 2017), Mall (on May 6 and
17, 2017), Chatten (on May 7 and 9, 2017), Marshall (on May 7
and 14, 2017), Megee (on May 7, 10, and 14, 2017), Keisha (on
May 8, 11, 16, and 17, 2017), Suzy (on May 8, 2017), Ron (on
May 9, 2017), John Doe #3 (on May 12, 2017), Gregson (on May
12, 2017), and Williams (on May 17, 2017). (Doc. 2, pp.
Ron told Plaintiff that Wexford and the State were on a
budget, and offered to bring pliers to yank out the tooth.
(Doc. 2, p. 24). On May 8, 2017, Plaintiff asked Lt. Lee for
help to get medical/dental treatment, but Lee refused to take
any action. (Doc. 2, p. 23). On May 9, 2017, Nurse Chatten
told Plaintiff that “nothing would happen until
lock-down was over.” (Doc. 2, p. 23).
about May 10, 2017, Plaintiff wrote an emergency grievance to
Warden Lashbrooks over the denial of dental care, but he
never received a response. (Doc. 2, pp. 25, 31). On May 13,
2017, after Plaintiff requested a crisis team, he was taken
to see McWilliams (mental health staff). Plaintiff told
McWilliams about his pain and dangling tooth, for which he
had been seeking care since April 23. McWilliams promised he
would make a referral to the dentist, but failed to do so.
(Doc. 2, p. 27).
14, 2017, the prison lockdown was ended and some inmates
began receiving dental call passes for teeth cleaning.
However, Plaintiff was not called to the dentist.
15, 2017, Laing told Plaintiff she had heard about the
grievance Plaintiff filed on her, and knew about his lawsuit
against Butler, but she didn't care who Plaintiff cried
to, because “she is covered.” (Doc. 2, p. 28).
Later that day and the following day, Laing refused again to
give Plaintiff any pain medication.
18, 2017, the pain from Plaintiff's abscess increased.
Shortly thereafter, the tooth completely broke off and he
started bleeding profusely. (Doc. 2, p. 29). Plaintiff was
rushed to the Health Care Unit, where a dental assistant
applied gauze to stop the bleeding. Osemeyer (dentist) told
Plaintiff that he would never be placed on an emergency call
line for dental care and would remain at the back of the
line, as long as Plaintiff kept those teeth in his mouth.
Id. Plaintiff asked for a partial to replace the
missing tooth, and an MRI to determine the severity of the
infection. Osemeyer responded that he wasn't about to
waste Wexford's money, and said the only treatment
Plaintiff would get was to have all his teeth extracted.
Plaintiff did receive antibiotics to treat the abscess, and
ibuprofen for the pain. (Doc. 2, pp. 29-30).
19, 2017, Shellby told Plaintiff that he “would regret
writing a grievance on her.” (Doc. 2, p. 30).
pending motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 3), seeks
testing and/or treatment for his ongoing mouth infection and
abscess. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for
the violation of his constitutional rights. (Doc. 2, p. 32).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on Plaintiff's allegations under Count 5 in the First
Amended Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to further
divide the claims in this 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 ...