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Gibson v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 4, 2018

WILLIE GIBSON, #R17924, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DENTIST ASSELMEIER, and STEVEN NEWBOLD, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Willie Gibson, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious dental issues in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An 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 any reasonable person would find meritless. 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: in August 2017, Plaintiff began to experience extreme dental pain on both sides of his mouth from two teeth. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff sent in over 10 requests to see a dentist, addressed to dentists Asselmeier and Newbold, but he did not receive a response. Id. Plaintiff sent two letters to Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), but no one responded. Id.

         “Wexford has a widespread practice among their employees of delaying medical treatment” which causes pain and suffering. (Doc. 1, p. 6). There is regularly a backlog of several hundred inmates waiting for medical and dental services. Id. Wexford refuses to send emergency patients to an outside hospital, which has caused Plaintiff to suffer. Id. Wexford also refuses to provide a full staff of dentists to tend to “the thousands of inmates at Menard.” Id. This has caused Plaintiff's condition to worsen and has resulted in his having to endure extreme dental pain. Id.

         In Plaintiff's requests to Asselmeier, he explained the symptoms he was experiencing from his two problematic teeth, including extreme pain, bleeding, swelling, abscesses, and drainage. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff also explained that there was a huge hole in one of the teeth. Id. On January 23, 2018, five months after Plaintiff began submitting requests, Plaintiff spoke with Asselmeier. Id. Asselmeier told Plaintiff that he and Newbold had received Plaintiff's requests and that they were unable to put him on a call line to be treated because Menard was at full capacity, and they were a few hundred inmates behind in scheduling. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). Plaintiff told Asselmeier about his aforementioned symptoms and tried to show him the hole in his tooth, but Asselmeier told him that there was nothing he could do at that time. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff then asked for pain pills and antibiotics to hold him over until he was called, but Asselmeier denied the request and told Plaintiff he would receive some once he was called. Id.

         On January 26, 2018, Plaintiff was again called to see Asselmeier. Id. Plaintiff once again recounted his symptoms of bleeding, swelling, abscesses, and drainage. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Asselmeier examined Plaintiff and told him he would provide a temporary filling for the hole in Plaintiff's tooth. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff responded that “temps don't last” and asked if a permanent filling would be provided. Id. Asselmeier responded that it would not, as the waiting list was almost two years. Id. Plaintiff also asked about his other bothersome tooth, but Asselmeier told him that he would be unable to tend to it that day because of the long line of inmates behind him. Id. Plaintiff then requested pain medication, and Asselmeier told him he would send some to Plaintiff's cell. Id.

         In Plaintiff's requests to Newbold, he explained the symptoms he was experiencing from his two problematic teeth, including extreme pain, bleeding, swelling, abscesses, and drainage. (Doc. 1, p. 11). ...


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