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Dent v. Burrell

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 20, 2018

CHARLES DENT, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies (Doc. 56) filed by Defendants Thomas Burrell and Alfonso David, as well as the Motion for Leave to Join Co-Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Jeffery Dennison, Deda Millis, Harry Allard, Karen Smoot, Stephen Engler, and Sherry Benton (Doc. 102). For the reasons set forth below, both the Motion for Summary Judgment and the Motion to Join are denied.


         On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff Charles Dent filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendant Thomas Burrell, the dentist at Shawnee Correctional Center, failed to properly treat an abscessed tooth. He also alleges Alfonso David, the medical director at Shawnee, and a number of other officials failed to intervene in that improper treatment, and that David failed to promptly treat Dent's chronic migraine condition (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2). The Court conducted a preliminary review of Dent's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and allowed him to proceed on the following claims:

COUNT 1: Burrell failed to promptly and properly treat Dent's abscess and abscess-related complications, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
COUNT 2: Burrell made improper treatment decisions and wrote a false disciplinary report against Dent because Dent filed grievances against him concerning his treatment, in violation of the First Amendment.
COUNT 3: David, Smoot, Dennison, Allard, Millis, Engler, and Benton violated the Eighth Amendment by not intervening in Dent's dental care.
COUNT 4: David failed to properly treat Dent's migraine-related problems from May 2016 to August 2016, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.


         It is undisputed that Dent submitted multiple grievances regarding Count 1, Burrell's failure to treat his abscessed tooth. Dent first filed a non-emergency grievance on August 5, 2016 (Doc. 57-1, pp. 23-24), stating that on July 11, 2016, he began experiencing severe tooth pain. On July 15, 2016, he was called to the dental department, but the dentist, Burrell, did not take any x-rays. Dent claimed he knew he had an abscessed tooth and sought to be called back to dental for x-rays and for a “proper diagnosis.” On August 15, 2016, the grievance counselor responded to the grievance and found the issue to be resolved as Dent's tooth had since been removed (Id.). On September 14, 2016, the Grievance Officer recommended, for the same reason, that the grievance be found moot (Id. at p. 22). The Chief Administrative Officer (“CAO”) concurred with this decision on September 19, 2016 (Id.), and Dent appealed the decision to the ARB. The ARB issued its decision on March 22, 2017, finding that Dent's issue was moot considering his tooth was extracted on August 15, 2016 (Id. at p. 21).

         Dent also filed two emergency grievances related to his dental care on August 23, 2016 (Doc. 57-1, pp. 13-16). Within these nearly identical grievances, Dent complained that Burrell was ignoring a piece of broken tooth in the socket where his tooth had been pulled. Dent claimed Burrell's inadequate treatment was retaliation for Dent filing his August 5, 2016 grievance (Id. at pp. 14, 16). Despite being marked as an emergency, one of the grievances was replied to by the grievance counselor rather than the CAO (Id. at p. 13). The other August 23, 2016 grievance was sent directly to the CAO, who determined two days later that the grievance was not an emergency (Id. at p. 15). The following day, Burrell himself responded to the grievance stating that the tooth was extracted in its entirety, there was no tooth remaining in the socket, and when the socket begins to heal, bone spicules can occur (Id.). The Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) received Dent's appeal of these grievances on November 4, 2016 (Id. at p. 10), and subsequently denied the appeals because “the issue was appropriately addressed by the facility Administration” and because the “claims against Dentist are not substantiated.” (Id.).

         Dent filed a final emergency grievance related to his dental care on September 8, 2016 (Id. at p. 37). In this grievance, Dent complained to the CAO that he had filed two prior emergency grievances regarding his treatment by Burrell, but had not received a response (Id.). He also stated that he had been in constant pain for more than two months, that there were clearly tooth fragments and a tissue mass in the extraction site, and that Burrell refused to acknowledge that he “botched” the extraction of his tooth. Dent demanded to be seen by an offsite oral surgeon for treatment (Id.). On September 12, 2016, the CAO determined the grievance was not an emergency (Id.). The counselor also responded that day stating that it was a “duplicate grievance.” (Id.). Burrell appealed this denial to the ARB, arguing that the CAO refused to process it as an emergency grievance and asking the ARB to “fast track” the emergency grievance so he could get treatment for his severe pain (Id.). The ARB received Burrell's appeal of the September 8 grievance on October 13, 2016, and denied it the following day because Burrell already had two other grievances regarding dental care pending appeal (See Doc. 57-1, p. 35).

         Also at issue are exhaustion of the grievances relating to Defendant David's failure to treat Dent's chronic migraines (Count 4) and Defendant Burrell's retaliation against Dent by filing a false disciplinary report (Count 2). Again, it is uncontested that Dent filed grievances on both of these issues: a non-emergency grievance regarding David's failure to treat his migraines was filed on August 5, 2016 (Doc. 57-1, p. 19), and a non-emergency grievance claiming Burrell wrote a false disciplinary ticket in retaliation for Dent filing grievances against him was filed on October 6, 2016 (Id. at p. 4).

         In his August 5, 2016 grievance, Dent stated that he had been prescribed Excedrin for his chronic migraines for seven years prior to his arrival at Shawnee on May 10, 2016 (Id. at p. 19). It further stated that on July 16, 2016, Dent saw a nurse about getting his prescription for Excedrin renewed (Id. at pp. 19-20). The nurse told Dent that the Excedrin would have to be prescribed by Defendant David and that there was only one doctor for 1, 000 inmates (Id. at p. 20). After suffering for several weeks, Dent placed another sick call request on August 3, 2016. When he was called to sick call on August 5, 2016, he was informed that the nurse never submitted him to see the doctor (Id.). He then filed a grievance requesting that David renew his Excedrin prescription (Id. at p. 19). On August 15, 2016, the counselor responded noting that Dent was scheduled to see Dr. Coe (not a defendant) on August 19, 2016, for an assessment of his need for Excedrin (Id.). On September 14, 2016, the Grievance Officer reviewed the grievance and determined that the issue was moot considering Dent had been scheduled to see the doctor (Id. at p. 18). The CAO concurred in this decision on September 19, 2016 (Id.). The ARB received Dent's appeal of this grievance on September 29, 2016, and on March 22, 2017-after this lawsuit was filed-found the issue to be moot (Id. at p. 17).

         The counselor responded to Dent's October 6, 2016 grievance regarding Burrell's alleged retaliation on October 18, 2016, instructing Dent to attach the allegedly false disciplinary report and summary and then forward it to the Grievance Officer. On November 15, 2016, the Grievance Officer reviewed the incident and found that the disciplinary report had been expunged. Thus, the grievance was denied (Id. at p. 3). Dent appealed this denial to the ARB on December 2, 2016-again, after the filing of this lawsuit (Id.). On April 10, 2017, the ARB denied Dent's appeal of his October 6, 2016 grievance because it found the issue was appropriately addressed by the facility (Dent's disciplinary ticket had been expunged) and because the claims of retaliation by Burrell were not substantiated (Id. at p. 2).

         Motions ...

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