United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
NATHANIEL J. SMITH, #M50212, Plaintiff,
LILLIAN OVERALL and C. SCHULZE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
Nathaniel Smith, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”), brings
this civil rights action for deprivations of his
constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Doc. 1). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff suffered from
a toothache associated with a broken tooth for three months
at Vandalia. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff claims that the delay
in treatment violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment.
Id. He now sues the prison's dentist (Doctor
Lillian Overall) and a counselor (C. Schulze) for monetary
damages. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
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.
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
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). The Complaint survives preliminary review.
alleges that he suffered from a broken tooth during his
incarceration at Vandalia in 2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 8). The
prison's dentist, Doctor Overall, did not respond to his
written requests for treatment for three months. (Doc. 1, pp.
5, 8-9). As a result, Plaintiff endured extreme pain and
difficulty eating. Id.
with his Complaint, Plaintiff submitted a copy of four
written requests for dental treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 8-9).
In the first one dated July 24, 2016, Plaintiff stated that
he was experiencing a “dental emergency.” (Doc.
1, p. 9). He explained that one of his teeth was broken,
resulting in extreme pain and an inability to eat.
Id. He asked that one or more teeth be extracted.
second written request dated August 8, 2016, Plaintiff
stated, “I am in extreme pain[.] I have a broken tooth
and cannot eat[.] I need to see Dentist to have [a] tooth
pulled and checked out.” (Doc. 1, p. 9). The form is
entitled “Dental Emergency.” Id.
third request dated August 25, 2016, Plaintiff again stated
that he broke a tooth, and he asked that it be extracted.
(Doc. 1, p. 8). He referred to numerous other written
requests for treatment that remained unanswered. Id.
August 29, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a fourth Offender
Request, in which he again complained of tooth pain and an
inability to eat. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff also indicated
that he was out of ibuprofen. Id. Almost three
months after submitting his first request for dental care,
Doctor Overall finally extracted Plaintiff's tooth. (Doc.
1, p. 5). Plaintiff maintains, however, that the delay in
treatment caused him to endure unnecessary and excruciating