United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Wendell Weaver, an Illinois inmate, has sued Defendants
Jacqueline Mitchell, D.D.S. and Stateville Correctional
Center Warden Randy Pfister for deliberate indifference to
his serious medical needs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
stemming from Plaintiff's receipt of allegedly inadequate
dental care. Currently before the Court is
Defendants' motion for summary judgment on all of
Plaintiff's claims. (Dkt. 111). For the reasons set forth
below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied
in part. Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Randy
Pfister in his individual capacity and his claims against
both Defendants regarding the treatment for his #5 tooth are
dismissed. Plaintiff's claims regarding his #12 tooth
remain and will proceed to trial.
Court takes the relevant facts from the parties' Local
Rule 56.1 statements of undisputed material facts and
supporting exhibits: (Dkt. 113), (Dkt. 124), and (Dkt. 127).
The Court construes the facts in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party-here Plaintiff. See Smego v.
Mitchell, 723 F.3d 752, 754 (7th Cir. 2013). The
following facts are undisputed except where otherwise noted.
is an inmate housed at Stateville Correctional Center
(“Stateville”). Defendant Dr. Mitchell is a
dentist who worked in Stateville's Health Care Unit
(“HCU”). Defendant Pfister is the current warden
of Stateville; he has held this post since November 2015.
(Dkt. 113) at ¶¶ 1-2. The previous Warden was
Michael Lemke. As relevant here, Pfister served as an
Assistant Warden of Operations at Stateville from December
2009 through May 2011, at which time he oversaw the
prison's “operations, ” including security,
maintenance, and dietary. Id. at ¶ 7. From May
2011 to November 2015, Pfister was employed at a different
prison. See (Dkt. 113), Ex. 2 (R. Pfister Dep.) at
issue in this case is Defendants' treatment of two of
Plaintiff's teeth, both of which Plaintiff eventually
lost. Plaintiff first began experiencing dental issues in
late 2007, when a dentist in the Stateville HCU determined
that Plaintiff needed a filling in his right first bicuspid,
known as his #5 tooth. (Dkt. 113), Ex. 1 (Answer to Am.
Compl.) at ¶ 11. Plaintiff's cavity was examined and
he was given a temporary filling in January 2008.
Id. at ¶ 12. Later, a root canal was determined
to be necessary, and “root canal treatment” was
performed with Plaintiff's consent on June 6, 2008. (Dkt.
124) at ¶ 57. After multiple delays, the overall root
canal procedure was completed on September 10, 2008. (Dkt.
113) at ¶ 23. Some of the delays were caused by lockdown
situations, in which movement in the prison is restricted.
During lockdowns, inmates with appointments but without
emergency medical situations are rescheduled for another
date. Id. at ¶ 12. Other of Plaintiff's
appointments were cancelled when Plaintiff failed to attend
the appointments and was listed as a “no show” on
his dental records. An inmate may be listed as a “no
show” due to circumstances within his control and also
beyond his control, including situations where security
officers failed to escort him to the HCU. (Dkt. 124) at
was next seen October 1, 2008 for a “final restoration,
” and Dr. Mitchell examined his #5 tooth. She noted in
Plaintiff's medical records that the tooth had limited
support and recorded that “patient advised he needs
post core crown.” (Dkt. 124) at ¶ 58; see
also (Dkt. 113), Ex. 8 at IDOC00006. At her deposition,
Dr. Mitchell testified that she believed that this course of
treatment would have been “ideal” for Plaintiff
in “terms of restoring.” See (Dkt.
124-3) (J. Mitchell Dep.) at 168:7-11. However, Plaintiff was
not given a post-core-crown procedure. (Dkt. 124) at ¶
59. The parties dispute the rationale behind this decision.
Plaintiff claims that Dr. Mitchell both told him and later
testified that he was not provided the post-core-crown
treatment due to an “unwritten rule” at
Stateville against providing these restorative elements.
Id. Although Defendants admit that Dr. Mitchell
testified about an “unwritten rule” at
Stateville, Defendants contend that Dr. Mitchell's
testimony was that Stateville's “unwritten
rule” is that the prison only provides treatment within
the basic community standards for the regular
non-incarcerated population. In this way, Defendants dispute
that the “unwritten rule” specifically regards
root canal restorative elements. See (Dkt. 127) at
event, some five months later, Plaintiff's #5 tooth
fractured. On March 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed a grievance
(No. 1357), requesting medical attention and noting that his
tooth had broken while he was eating ice the day before and
that he was in pain. Plaintiff further noted Dr.
Mitchell's comment following his root canal that he
“need[s] something called ‘a core & a
crown' because root canals makes the tooth ‘weak,
'” but that “Stateville [doesn't]
do” those procedures. Plaintiff complained about his
root canal as incomplete and stated that his family would pay
for the core and crown if necessary, emphasizing that he did
not want to lose any teeth. See (Dkt. 113), Ex. 7
(March 16, 2009 Grievance No. 1357) at IDOC000009 (“My
question to whom ever [sic] is how could the dentist do a
half . . . job? Meaning a root canal without a core and crown
and especially ‘knowing' how a root canal make a
tooth weak?”); see also (Dkt. 124) at ¶
60. According to the parties, Dr. Mitchell first reviewed and
responded to the grievance on April 20, 2009. (Dkt. 124) at
¶ 73. Grievance No. 1357 was “reviewed” on
July 29, 2009, and the results of the review were concurred
with on August 4, 2009 (142 days after the grievance was
filed). (Dkt. 113) at ¶ 24; see also (Dkt.
124-3), Ex. 11 (Grievance Officer Report). Ultimately,
Plaintiff's #5 tooth was extracted two years later (after
it broke once more) on March 24, 2011. Id. at ¶
was seen for his “two year examination”
appointment shortly thereafter on April 6, 2011. Id.
at ¶ 28. As a result of this and another examination,
Plaintiff received a filling in his first left bicuspid-his
#12 tooth-on August 29, 2011. Id. at ¶¶
29-30. Following that procedure, Plaintiff made two requests
for dental appointments. He consequently was scheduled to be
seen on September 23, September 29, and October 19, but
Plaintiff was a “no show” for those appointments.
Id. at ¶¶ 31-34. Plaintiff made another
appointment request that was received in November, and he was
seen on November 28, 2011. At that appointment, his tooth and
the associated pulp were “worked on.” Defendants
contend that Plaintiff was then offered the choice of a root
canal or extraction, and Plaintiff opted for the root canal.
Id. at ¶ 36. Plaintiff disputes that he was
given this option or that he consented to a root canal for
his #12 tooth. See (Dkt. 124) at ¶¶ 36,
61. Regardless, Dr. Mitchell began Plaintiff's root canal
work on December 7, 2011, whereon portions of his tooth were
“worked on.” (Dkt. 113) at ¶ 38. Plaintiff
was given a temporary filling. Id. at ¶ 40.
Plaintiff claims that during this appointment, Dr. Mitchell
told him that his #5 tooth had cracked and broken because
“he needed a post and a crown after any and all root
canals.” (Dkt. 124) at ¶¶ 22, 62; see
also (Dkt. 113), Ex. 6 (Grievance N. M302) (“Dr.
Mitchell inform[ed] me after she had started (the second)
root canal without my consent, that the reason my first tooth
cracked and broke was because I needed a ‘post and a
crown' after any/and all root canals . . . .”).
Defendants dispute both that Dr. Mitchell discussed
Plaintiff's #5 tooth on this date or that she stated that
posts and crowns are needed after all root canals; Defendants
instead contend that post and crown treatment is
“partially cosmetic and not necessary, but does add
support to the tooth.” (Dkt. 127) at ¶ 62.
the time came for Plaintiff's follow-up appointment six
days later, the appointment was rescheduled because the
medical staff “ran out of time” to see Plaintiff.
Plaintiff's rescheduled appointment on December 22 was
later cancelled due to “staff shortages”. (Dkt.
113) at ¶ 39; see also (Dkt. 113), Ex. 1 at
¶ 42; (Dkt. 113), Ex. 8 at IDOC000012.
early January 2012, Plaintiff requested an appointment
because his temporary filling had come out; he was seen on
January 9 and his #12 tooth again was “worked
on.” Id. at ¶¶ 40- 41. On January
12, 2012, prior to his follow-up appointment scheduled for
January 26, 2012, Plaintiff reported to the HCU that he was
in pain. In response, Plaintiff was sent pain medication and
antibiotics; his follow-up appointment was not advanced.
Id. at ¶ 42. On January 26, 2012, Stateville
was under lockdown and Plaintiff's appointment was
rescheduled for February 8. Plaintiff was a “no
show” for his February appointment, and it was
rescheduled for April 20, 2012. Before that appointment could
occur, on March 13, 2012, Plaintiff reported that his
temporary filling again had fallen out. Id. at
¶ 44. Plaintiff was seen on March 29 and two root canal
therapy sessions were scheduled-and conducted-in April.
Id. at ¶¶ 45-46. Plaintiff's root
canal on his #12 tooth was ultimately finished on May 15,
2012. Id. at ¶¶ 47-48. During the five
months that passed between the initiation of the root canal
and its completion, Plaintiff claims that he suffered
excruciating pain. (Dkt. 124) at ¶ 64. The parties
dispute whether Plaintiff suffered any infections during this
time, although they do not dispute that he was prescribed
antibiotics in January. Id.; (Dkt. 127) at ¶
64. Due to two lockdowns and Plaintiff's failure to
attend a scheduled appointment, Plaintiff was not seen for
his root-canal follow-up appointment until August 16, 2012.
In addition, the day before this appointment, Plaintiff
reported a “missing filling in his #12 tooth.”
Id. at ¶¶ 49-50. The filling was replaced
at the August 16 appointment.
February 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance (No. M302)
complaining about the pain and suffering he endured through
his two root canals at Stateville due to the multiple
infections he contracted and the multiple times he needed to
have his teeth re-worked before his root canals could be
completed. (Dkt. 113), Ex. 6 (Grievance No. M302). Plaintiff
complained that all of the dental work (and re-work) caused
him “weeks of headaches, ” prevented him from
eating, and “leaked” medicine in his mouth.
Plaintiff further stated that approximately three weeks prior
to the grievance date, the last tooth on which he had work
done (presumably his #12 tooth) cracked, broke, went into his
gums, and caused him to bleed for two days. Plaintiff relayed
that he had made 10-15 appointment requests, but that he had
not yet been seen. He further stated that he had swallowed
part of his broken tooth while trying to eat. Id.
Ultimately, Plaintiff complained that he had received
inadequate dental care that had caused him to lose his teeth
permanently. Plaintiff requested an emergency grievance
hearing regarding Grievance No. M302; Plaintiff's request
was denied by Warden Lemke on March 1, 2013. (Dkt. 113) at
medical records reflect that he then failed to attend four
scheduled appointments from February to June of 2013, and
that he had a biannual exam on July 10, 2013. (Dkt. 113), Ex.
8 at 118. He attended a follow-up appointment on December 18,
2013 and then was not seen again until July 9, 2015 for his
next biannual exam. Id. In the meantime, according
to the parties, Grievance No. M302 was reviewed more than a
year later on March 28, 2014 with Dr. Mitchell's
assistance (see (Dkt. 7) at 7), and the results of
the review were concurred with on April 2, 2014. Id.
at ¶ 20. Plaintiff appealed this grievance to the
Administrative Review Board, which made a (presumptively
negative) “determination” on the grievance on
September 5, 2014-579 days after the grievance was filed.
Id. at ¶ 21.
filed suit on March 31, 2015. His amended complaint asserts
five § 1983 claims for the violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights: (1) failure to provide proper dental
treatment against Dr. Mitchell; (2) failure to promptly
reschedule treatment against Dr. Mitchell; (3) improper
denial of medical treatment against Pfister; (4) failure to
direct prompt treatment against Pfister; and (5) denial of
emergency grievance against Defendant Pfister. See
(Dkt. 45). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages
as well as injunctive relief in the form of an order
requiring Defendants to perform the “full” root
canal procedure or replace his lost teeth.
the pendency of this lawsuit, on February 19, 2016 Plaintiff
again complained to Stateville's dental staff that his
#12 tooth had broken. The tooth was “treated”; it
was not extracted. (Dkt. 113) at ¶ 51. In October 2016,
Plaintiff reported a tingling in his #12 tooth, but he did
not want it extracted. He was given antibiotics. Id.
at ¶ 53. Ten months later, on July 18, 2017, Plaintiff
was taken to an outside dentist-Dr. Glenn Scheive-for the
extraction of two wisdom teeth. (Dkt. 124) at ¶¶
66-67. During that appointment, Dr. Scheive determined that
Plaintiff's #12 tooth had developed an abscess and that
Plaintiff had sustained bone loss associated with the
abscess. Id. at ¶¶ 65, 68-69; (Dkt. 124-2)
(Scheive Dep.) at 59:23. The parties do not dispute that only
“longstanding” abscesses cause bone loss. (Dkt.
124) at ¶ 70; (Dkt. 127) at ¶ 70. In addition, the
parties agree that Plaintiff's abscess was likely caused
by the lack of a crown on his #12 tooth. (Dkt. 124) at ¶
71; (Dkt. 127) at ¶ 71. Plaintiff consented to the
extraction of his #12 tooth by Dr. Scheive. (Dkt. 124) at
judgment is proper where “the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In determining whether
summary judgment is appropriate, the Court must construe all
facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and
draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor
(here, Plaintiff). Majors v. Gen. Elec. Co., 714
F.3d 527, 532 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). Rule 56(a)
“mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate
time for discovery and upon motion, against any party who
fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence
of an element essential to that party's case, and on
which that party would bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). In other words, the moving party may meet
its burden by pointing out to the court that “there is
an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case.” Id. at 324.
avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party must go beyond
the pleadings and “set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). For this
reason, the Seventh Circuit has called summary judgment the
“put up or shut up” moment in a
lawsuit-“when a party must show what evidence it has
that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of
events.” See Steen v. Myers, 486 F.3d 1017,
1022 (7th Cir. 2007). In other words, the party opposing
summary judgment “must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “The mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. 252.
Statute of Limitations
first argue that Plaintiff's claims that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent in treating his #5 tooth are
untimely. “Claims brought under § 1983 are
governed by the statute of limitations for personal-injury
claims in the state where the plaintiff's injury
occurred.” Neita v. City of Chicago, 830 F.3d
494, 498 (7th Cir. 2016). “In Illinois the statute of
limitations for personal-injury actions is two years from
when the cause of action accrued[.]” Id. While
state law determines the length of the limitations period,
“[f]ederal law . . . determines the accrual of a
claim” brought under § 1983. Wilson v.
Giesen, 956 F.2d 738, 741 (7th Cir. 1992). On this
point, “[a] § 1983 claim to redress a medical
injury arising from deliberate indifference to a
prisoner's serious medical needs accrues when the
plaintiff knows of his physical ...