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Harringtonn v. Fulk

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 21, 2018

JOHN SONES and JACY FULK, Defendants.


          Hon. Reona J. Daly United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff James Harrington, a former inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”). Plaintiff alleges he was denied adequate treatment for his serious dental condition. Plaintiff is proceeding against Dr. John Sones and Nurse Jacy Fulk for deliberate indifference.

         Dr. Sones and Nurse Fulk filed motions for summary judgment that are now before the Court (Docs. 58 and 74). Harrington timely responded to Defendants' motions (Docs. 65 and 80). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions are GRANTED.


         In November 2013, while incarcerated at Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”), Plaintiff James Harrington experienced stiffness in the left side of his body and was escorted to the healthcare unit on an emergency basis (Deposition of James Harrington, Doc. 59-3, p. 5). Harrington contends Nurse Jacy Fulk came into the exam room and, after he explained that the left side of his body was stiff and he could not move his neck or jaw, she told him, “It's not a life-or-death situation” and directed him to go back to his dorm and fill out a request form (Id. at 9). Nurse Fulk did not perform an examination and did not refer Harrington to be seen by a doctor (Id. at 9, 44). It is not clear what day this interaction occurred, but Harrington believes it was within one week before seeing the dentist, Dr. Sones, which occurred on November 29, 2013 (Id. at 16, 44). Harrington did not fill out a medical request form, explaining that he purchased pain medication from the commissary a few hours after seeing Nurse Fulk, which resolved his pain (Id. at 10).

         On November 29, 2013, the left side of Harrington's face was swollen and he was again taken to the healthcare unit for evaluation, where he was seen by Defendant Dr. Sones (Doc. 59-3 at 10-11, 44; see James Harrington's Medical Records, Doc. 59-1, p. 1, 5). Harrington complained that his “face swelled up bad” the previous afternoon, and Dr. Sones observed severe swelling from the edge of Harrington's upper lip over the cheekbone to the back of the arch of tooth #16 (top left wisdom tooth) (Deposition of Dr. Jonathan Sones, Doc. 59-2 at 15; see Doc. 59-1 at 1, 5). After examining Harrington's mouth and reviewing his panoramic x-rays, Dr. Sones determined Harrington suffered from severe swelling, severe periodontal disease, and severe decay throughout the four quadrants of his mouth (Doc. 59-2 at 15). Dr. Sones also found that teeth #s 4, 14, and 21 were actively infected (Id. at 15-16). Based on this assessment, Dr. Sones determined that all of Harrington's remaining teeth needed to be extracted as they were not viable or salvageable (Id. at 17-18; see Doc. 59-1 at 1, 5). Harrington, however, contends that Dr. Sones did not tell him that all of his teeth needed to be extracted on this date (Doc. 59-3 at 27). It is undisputed that Dr. Sones ordered the administration of Unasyn (an IV antibiotic), Pen VK (an oral antibiotic), and Motrin (a Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory) (Doc. 59-2 at 15; Doc. 59-3 at 26; see Doc. 59-1 at 1, 5). The antibiotics were prescribed to treat the infection, prior to extraction, and Motrin was prescribed to address any discomfort or pain (Doc. 59-2 at 15; see Doc. 59-1 at 1, 5). An immediate extraction was not scheduled due to the severity of Harrington's infection and swelling (Doc. 59-2 at 17).

         After receiving antibiotics, Harrington saw Dr. Sones for his extraction on December 2, 2013 (Doc. 59-3 at 27; Doc. 59-2 at 17; see Doc. 59-1 at 5). It is undisputed that Dr. Sones extracted teeth #s 4, 14, and 21 (Id.). Harrington contends that after these teeth were extracted, Dr. Sones told him, for the first time, that the rest of his teeth also needed to be extracted (Doc. 59-3 at 28). Harrington refused (Id.; see Doc. 59-1 at 14). After this extraction, Harrington's partial denture no longer fit in his mouth, but Dr. Sones would not provide a new partial denture (Doc. 59-3 at 46).

         Harrington saw Dr. Sones again on June 19, 2014 and October 21, 2014 (Doc. 59-3 at 32; see Doc. 59-1 at 7). During these appointments, Harrington requested a new partial denture and indicated he had difficulty eating, but Dr. Sones refused, offering only his initial recommendation of extracting the remainder of Harrington's teeth, letting the extractions heal, and then fitting him for a complete set of dentures (Doc. 59-3 at 33-35). It does not appear that Dr. Sones saw Harrington after October 21, 2014.

         On October 31, 2014, Harrington was seen by another dentist, Dr. Sandhu, who noted that he had very poor oral hygiene and was leaving his partial denture in “24/7, ” which was causing inflammation of the upper gingival tissues and palate (Doc. 59-2 at 37; see Doc. 59-1 at 8-9). Dr. Sandhu's examination was limited to Harrington's upper arch, and he recommended a full upper extraction and a full upper denture (Id.). However, Dr. Sandhu noted that he would add teeth to Harrington's upper partial denture, but this could not be done until his oral hygiene improved (Doc. 59-2 at 38; see Doc. 59-1 at 9). On November 10, 2014, Dr. Sandhu noted that Harrington's oral hygiene had improved and he explained to Harrington that he would add teeth to his upper denture; however, Harrington declined, due to Dr. Sandhu's concern that the denture may not fit when it came back from the factory (Doc. 59-3 at 48; Doc. 59-2 at 38; see Doc. 59-1 at 9, 11).


         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party can demonstrate “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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322(1986); see also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party “must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

         In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). The Seventh Circuit has remarked that summary judgment “is 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.” Steen v. Myers et. al, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2005) (other citations omitted)).

         Eighth Amendment ...

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