United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Marvin E. Aspen, United States District Judge.
Derrick Stefan Williams filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against several defendants, including
Jeffery Saffold, D.D.S. in his individual capacity, alleging
Defendant acted with deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he
extracted the wrong tooth. Presently before us is
Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 73.)
For the reasons set forth below, we grant Defendant's
otherwise stated, the facts described herein are undisputed
and culled from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 submissions.
Dr. Saffold is a dentist who provided dental treatment to
Plaintiff while he was a pretrial detainee at the Will County
Adult Detention Facility (“WCADF”). (Def.'s
L.R. 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. of Material Facts (“Def.'s
SOF”) (Dkt. No. 75) ¶ 2.) As relevant here,
Plaintiff visited Dr. Saffold on September 19, 2014 and
October 8, 2014 in connection with his complaint about a
tooth that caused him pain when he ate sweet foods.
(Id. ¶ 12.)
first visit on September 19, Dr. Saffold and his assistant
performed a dental examination on Plaintiff. (Id.
¶ 13.) As part of the examination, they visually
inspected Plaintiff's teeth, and Plaintiff pointed with
his finger to the tooth that was causing discomfort.
(Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff contends he pointed to
tooth 20, but Dr. Saffold maintains Plaintiff indicated tooth
19 was the source of his discomfort. (Id.; Pl.'s
L.R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp. to Def's SOF (“Pl.'s
Resp. to SOF”) (Dkt. No. 80) ¶ 14.) As an
additional diagnostic tool, Dr. Saffold also took x-rays of
the area surrounding the affected tooth. (SOF ¶ 15.) Dr.
Saffold's contemporaneous records state “seen [sic]
patient for dental request exam, patient [complained of] left
posterior toothache pointing to #19.” (Sept. 19, 2014
Dental Progress Note (Dkt. No. 80-7).) With respect to tooth
19, Dr. Saffold recorded “no decay seen visually and
minimal swelling” and indicated the x-ray
“reveals periodontal vertical defect with #19
interproximal #19-20.” (Id.) Dr. Saffold
prescribed pain medication and antibiotics and scheduled a
follow-up appointment two weeks later to evaluate whether an
extraction was necessary. (Id.) Dr. Saffold
testified at his deposition that during the September 19
exam, he observed the root of tooth 19 was exposed, and
Plaintiff had lost “a large mass of bone” that
held tooth 19 on both sides. (SOF ¶¶ 16, 18.) He
testified that he found no similar problems with tooth 20,
and determined it was “fine.” (Id.
October 8, 2014, Plaintiff returned to see Dr. Saffold for a
follow-up appointment. (Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff
asserts that he continued to experience pain when he ate
sweets, and he expected that Dr. Saffold would extract tooth
20 during the visit. (Pl.'s Resp. to SOF ¶ 22.) Dr.
Saffold, however, believed Plaintiff indicated that tooth 19
was still causing him pain. (SOF ¶ 23.) Dr. Saffold
contends he again examined Plaintiff's teeth and observed
the root of tooth 19 was exposed and the tooth was exhibiting
signs of gum and bone deterioration. (Id. 24-25.)
Dr. Saffold concluded tooth 19 was causing Plaintiff's
discomfort and should be extracted as no alternative
treatments could be pursued. (Id.) Plaintiff then
signed a Dental Informed Consent, which specified tooth 19
would be extracted and that Plaintiff consented to the
procedure. (Id. ¶¶ 27-31.) Dr. Saffold and
his assistant also signed the consent and affirmed they
“explained the matters indicated above relating to the
operation and/or procedure and the risks, consequences, and
alternatives, ” and that “[t]he inmate appeared
to understand and consented to the procedures
described.” (Id. ¶¶ 32-33.) Dr.
Saffold then proceeded to numb the affected area and extract
Plaintiff's tooth 19. (Id. ¶ 35.) Plaintiff
was given pain medication and discharged. (Id.
the same day, Plaintiff filed a grievance, complaining that
Dr. Saffold had extracted the wrong tooth. (Id.
¶ 37.) Plaintiff asserted that Dr. Saffold should have
removed tooth 20, which he alleged was the tooth causing him
discomfort. (See, e.g., Pl.'s to SOF
¶¶ 35-36.) Tooth 20 remains in Plaintiff's
mouth, and he testified he has not sought to have it
extracted as “it don't bother me until I eat
something sweet on that side, ” which he avoids. (SOF
¶¶ 41-42.) Plaintiff was treated by Dr. Saffold
once more following the October 8 procedure in order to treat
a dry socket that developed at the site of the extraction.
(Id. ¶ 43.) The dry socket was successfully
treated with medication, and Plaintiff received no further
relevant care from Dr. Saffold. (Id.) Plaintiff was
released from custody on April 26, 2016 and did not seek
follow up care to have tooth 20 removed. (Id.
judgment is appropriate 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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial burden of
“informing the district court of the basis for its
motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553 (1986) (internal quotations
omitted). In responding to a summary judgment motion, the
nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations
contained in the pleadings but must present specific facts to
show that a genuine issue of material fact exists.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2); Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com,
Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007) (“A
party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may
not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively
demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a
genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.”
(citation omitted)). A genuine issue for trial exists when
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 2510 (1986). We view the record in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Id. at 255,
106 S.Ct. at 2513; Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582,
584 (7th Cir. 2009). “However, inferences that are
supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a
summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan
Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and
quotation marks omitted).
Eighth Amendment “safeguards the prisoner against a
lack of medical care that ‘may result in pain and
suffering which no one suggests would serve any penological
purpose.'” Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d
722, 727 (7th Cir. 2016), as amended (Aug. 25, 2016)
(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103, 97
S.Ct. 285, 290 (1976)). “Prison officials violate the
Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual
punishment when they display ‘deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs of prisoners.'” Greeno
v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 652 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104, 97 S.Ct. at 291). To
establish deliberate indifference to a serious medical need
in violation of the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must show
that he suffered from an objectively serious medical
condition, and that a state official subjectively disregarded
the risk to his health. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1977 (1994); Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 593-94 (7th Cir. 2009);
Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir.
principles applicable to determining whether a condition
constitutes an objectively serious medical need
“appl[y] equally to dental care.” McGowan v.
Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010). The Seventh
Circuit has recognized that “the neglect of one's
dental hygiene can, and frequently does, result in
objectively serious dental and medical problems, which is
illustrated by [the] need to have . . . teeth
extracted.” Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469,
482-83 (7th Cir. 2005); see also, e.g., Berry v.
Peterman, 604 F.3d 435, 440 (7th Cir. 2010)
(“Tooth decay can constitute an objectively serious
medical condition because of pain and the risk of
infection.”); Greene v. Pollard, 335 F.
App'x 612, 614 (7th Cir. 2009) (finding tooth decay, gum
infection, and dental problems interfering with eating and
sleeping may rise to the level of a serious medical need).
Defendant argues Plaintiff was not suffering from an
objectively serious dental condition, because Plaintiff
testified at his deposition that despite his contention that
Dr. Saffold should have pulled tooth 20, Plaintiff never
sought follow up dental care to have the tooth removed, and
he testified that it “do[es not] bother him” so
long as he avoids eating sweet foods on that side of his
mouth. (SOF ¶¶ 40-41.) However, we need not decide
the issue because Plaintiff cannot sustain his burden of
establishing Dr. Saffold was deliberately indifferent.
be deliberately indifferent, the defendants must have acted
with ‘a sufficiently culpable state of
mind.'” Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001,
1010 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Greeno, 414 F.3d at
653). The official must be subjectively aware of facts from
which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of
serious harm exists, and he must draw the inference.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837, 114 S.Ct. at 1979. However,
a prisoner need not establish that “officials intended
or desired the harm that transpired.” Greeno,
414 F.3d at 653. “Instead, it is enough to show that
the defendants knew of a substantial risk of harm to the
inmate and disregarded the risk.” Id. A claim
may lie where prison officials provide medical care that is
inadequate “in light of the severity of the condition
and professional norms.” Perez v. Fenoglio,
792 F.3d 768, 777 (7th Cir. 2015). “Deliberate
indifference may occur where a prison official, having
knowledge of a significant risk to inmate health or safety,
administers ‘blatantly inappropriate' medical
treatment, acts in a manner contrary to the recommendation of
specialists, or delays a prisoner's treatment for
non-medical reasons, thereby exacerbating his pain and
suffering.” Id. (internal citations omitted).
prisoner may show that the prison official acted with
reckless disregard through “inaction or woefully
inadequate action.” Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d
849, 854 (7th Cir. 1999); see also Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011) (“That
the prisoner received some treatment does not foreclose his
deliberate indifference claim if the treatment received was
‘so blatantly inappropriate as to evidence intentional
mistreatment likely to seriously aggravate his
condition.'” (quoting Greeno, 414 F.3d at
653)). “But negligence, even gross negligence, does not
violate the Constitution.” McGowan, 612 F.3d
at 640; see also Holloway v. Del. Cty. Sheriff, 700
F.3d 1063, 1073 (7th Cir. 2012) (comparing the deliberate
indifference standard to criminal recklessness, finding
explaining it “requires more than negligence and it
approaches intentional wrongdoing”). “Even if
prison officials are aware of a substantial risk of ...