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Jefferson v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 12, 2019

MICAH ASHER JEFFERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
J. LASHBROOK and JOHN DOE DENTIST, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Micah Asher Jefferson, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights while he was at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges John Doe Dentist was deliberately indifferent in treating his broken teeth, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He seeks monetary damages.[1]

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: While he was housed at Menard, Plaintiff saw John Doe Dentist on numerous occasions starting in 2018. Plaintiff complained about two teeth on the upper left side of his mouth that were cracked, broken, and causing him pain. Although Plaintiff complained to the dentist about the pain, he refused to remove the teeth and instead removed two lower teeth that did not cause Plaintiff pain (Id. at p. 6). Plaintiff's upper teeth caused him increasing pain and he could not eat or sleep and suffered from headaches. He also could not finish his meals because of the broken teeth. He wrote two grievances, one dated January 6, 2019, which was labeled an emergency by the Chief Administrative Officer, and one dated January 14, 2019, which was deemed a non-emergency. Although he wrote grievances, he was not sent to the dentist for care. He saw the dentist again on February 4, 2019; the dentist drilled holes in his teeth, but that treatment did not fix the problem. Plaintiff asked to have the teeth removed and informed the dentist that he was in pain, but the dentist told him he did not care about his pain and would leave them in his mouth if he continued to complain (Id.). Plaintiff later saw a new dentist about his teeth, and the dentist acknowledged that the teeth needed to be removed. Unfortunately, however, the teeth were not removed, and Plaintiff was forced to break one of the teeth with his hand to relieve the pain (Id.).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate a single count in this pro se action:

Count 1: John Doe Dentist was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's tooth pain in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[2]

         Preliminary Dismissals

         Although Plaintiff identifies J. Lashbrook as a defendant in the caption of his Complaint, he fails to allege any constitutional violation by Lashbrook. He does allege that the Chief Administrative Officer responded to his grievances and deemed one an emergency and one not an emergency but that the grievance officials did not provide him with care. The records attached to the Complaint indicate that Lashbrook deemed his grievance dated January 6 an emergency and submitted it for expedited review (Doc. 1, pp. 10, 17). To the extent that he alleges that Lashbrook improperly responded to his grievances, the denial or mishandling of a grievance does not amount to a constitutional violation. Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 953 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[T]he alleged mishandling of [a prisoner's] grievance by persons who otherwise did not cause or participate in the underlying conduct states no claim.”); George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, Lashbrook is DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         Count 1

         At this stage, the allegations in the Complaint state a viable claim for deliberate indifference against John Doe Dentist. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Chatham v. Davis, 839 F.3d 679, 684 (7th Cir. 2016); Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012) (delay in treatment).

         John ...


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