United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
currently incarcerated at Vienna Correctional Center
(“Vienna”), has brought this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff's claims arose while he was confined at
Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), and he
filed the action while he was in Jacksonville Correctional
Center (“Jacksonville”). Plaintiff claims that
the prison dentist at Lawrence, Dr. Narodistky, delayed
treatment for a damaged tooth and rendered improper treatment
that caused him pain. This case is now before the Court for a
preliminary review of the Complaint 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.
August 15, 2016, while Plaintiff was at Robinson, he sought
treatment from Dr. Narodistky for a broken tooth (tooth #7).
(Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff asked for a repair using
“flo[w]able composite, ” which he had received
earlier on the same tooth while at the Cook County Jail, and
outside prison. Some of that composite remained on
Plaintiff's tooth from his earlier dental work.
Narodistky responded that he could not do the composite
repair, and all he could do was extract the tooth. Because
the composite on his tooth was not completely chipped away,
Plaintiff did not choose the extraction.
point after the August 15 dental visit, while eating,
Plaintiff cracked the flowable composite where it had bonded
his tooth back together. This made it difficult for him to
eat, because he was trying to avoid completely breaking the
approximately October 31, 2016, Plaintiff returned to see
Narodistky, and asked if he could get a temporary crown and a
root canal. Narodistky said that a root canal was too costly
and the IDOC would not pay for it, so all he could do was
extract the tooth. Plaintiff asked if the tooth could be
bonded together with the flowable composite. Narodistky
instead suggested that Plaintiff should let him extract the
tooth and replace it with a partial, and reiterated that he
could not do a crown and root canal due to cost limitations.
(Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff wanted to save the tooth, because
it was not painful or infected, just cracked, and other
dentists had been able to bond the tooth. Id.
also asked for partials for the lower left and right rear of
his mouth where he was already missing other teeth.
Narodistky would only provide these partials if Plaintiff
agreed to pay $80. (Doc. 1, p. 15).
filed grievances on October 31 and November 20, 2017, to
complain about Narodistky's refusal to repair the
tooth. (Doc. 1, pp. 16, 27, 29-32). In December
2016, after receiving the response to his grievances,
Plaintiff was called back to see Narodistky. This time,
Narodistky agreed to give Plaintiff a crown for the problem
tooth #7. However, the work would not be done until January
2017. Narodistky showed Plaintiff the type of crown he would
get (silver), and explained that he would first “build
the tooth up, ” and then put on the crown. Narodistky
then “snatched the lower broken part of the chipped
tooth off . . . with his hand.” (Doc. 1, p. 16). This
caused Plaintiff some slight pain.
January 15, 2017, Plaintiff went to see Narodistky expecting
to get the metal crown. However, Narodistky said that instead
of putting on a crown, he would “build up the tooth
like a regular tooth.” (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiff
agreed, because he was tired of the delay. Within 2 days
after the buildup procedure, Plaintiff's tooth was in
excruciating pain. Before the treatment, Plaintiff had not
had any problem with that tooth, other than the fact it was
cracked. When Plaintiff reported the pain, Narodistky asked
him whether he was ready to have the tooth pulled now, which
suggested to Plaintiff that the dentist intentionally did
something to infect his tooth. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Narodistky
prescribed ibuprofen and antibiotics at that time. (Doc. 1,
attached documents reveal more details as to the chronology
of events after this point. On April 4, 2017, Plaintiff
signed up for sick call to see the dentist, and also wrote a
letter to Martin, Warden Rains, and Slickenmeyer (Director of
Nursing). (Doc. 1, pp. 40, 43-45). In the letter, Plaintiff
complained that Narodistky had initially refused to perform a
root canal and crown on the tooth that Plaintiff believed
could be saved; complained that Narodistky failed to put on a
crown after initially agreeing to do so; stated that he had
been in pain ever since undergoing the tooth buildup
procedure despite getting antibiotics and ibuprofen from
Narodistky about a week after the procedure; and noted that
Narodistky denied his request for a root canal because he did
not have the necessary tool. Plaintiff asked to be scheduled
to see somebody who could perform a root canal in order to
relieve his pain, and noted that Narodistky had not done any
x-rays to check the condition of the painful tooth. (Doc. 1,
p. 45). In the Complaint, Plaintiff states that Martin,
Rains, and Slickenmeyer did nothing to address his needs.
(Doc. 1, p. 17). However, Plaintiff notes in his grievance
narratives that he was called in for a dental x-ray soon
after he sent the letter. (Doc. 1, pp. 34-35). At an
unspecified time, Plaintiff spoke to Martin (Health Care
Administrator) about a grievance (the Complaint does not
specify which one), but Martin merely responded that
“the rules are the rules, ” and walked
away. (Doc. 1, p. 17).
also visited Plaintiff over a period of several days to check
on his condition, while Plaintiff was housed in segregation,
starting on approximately April 5, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 40).
Narodistky performed the x-ray, which showed an infection; he
then prescribed penicillin and ibuprofen. Id.
Several days later, Plaintiff told Narodistky that the
infection in his gums seemed to be getting worse, so
Narodistky gave Plaintiff a stronger antibiotic. Id.
the pain continued to intensify, on approximately April 11,
2017, Narodistky examined Plaintiff in his office and
explained that a portion of the tooth buildup must be removed
in order to drain the abscess/infection. (Doc. 1, pp. 18,
40-41). Narodistky did that procedure and the area began to
asked Narodistky to perform the root canal. (Doc. 1, pp. 18,
42). Narodistky said that he was unable to do so, because he
did not have the special tool needed for a root canal.
However, he told Plaintiff that the procedure was
“about 80% complete” based on what he had already
done. Id. At some point, Narodistky requested his
supervisor (Dr. Sandhu) to allow a referral for Plaintiff to
be treated by a root canal specialist. (Doc. 1, p. 18;
see also Doc. 1, p. 50). Sandhu denied the referral.
days later, Narodistky visited Plaintiff in the segregation
unit and told him that Wexford had agreed to provide the
tools for him to complete the root canal at the prison. (Doc.
1, pp. 18, 42). Plaintiff agreed to this plan, but he was
transferred to another prison before Narodistky could obtain
the tool and finish the root canal.
complains that if Narodistky had not denied his request for a
composite repair, or root canal and crown back in the fall of
2016, he would not have had to suffer the pain and distress
from undergoing the buildup procedure, contracting the
infection, and then having the incomplete root canal. (Doc.
1, pp. 19, 42). Between October 2016 and January 2017, while
Narodistky was refusing to perform a root canal, Plaintiff
had much difficulty eating certain food because of the
cracked tooth. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Narodistky initially claimed
he could not repair the tooth, but then finally agreed to do
it after Plaintiff filed grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 19).
Plaintiff believes that the Defendants lied to him when they
said that the IDOC does not do root canals, in order to
convince Plaintiff to have the tooth pulled. (Doc. 1, p. 42).
Plaintiff's transfer to Jacksonville, his condition
worsened. The infection and pain returned, and he was treated
with antibiotics and pain medication. (Doc. 1, p. 42). As of
the time Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint, the tooth was
still in Plaintiff's mouth and nothing had been done to
complete the root canal. (Doc. 1, p. 19). ...