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Young v. Kazmerski

March 23, 2007

DANA E. YOUNG, SR., PLAINTIFF
v.
DENNIS J. KAZMERSKI, D.D.S., ROBERT S. MOCZULSKI, D.D.S., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kosik

MEMORANDUM

Dana E. Young, Sr., a prisoner confined at the State Correctional Institution at Frackville, filed the instant civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 on November 25, 2005. Named as defendants were Dennis J. Kazmerski, D.D.S., and Robert S. Moczulski, D.D.S., dentists employed at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy. Along with his complaint, plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis.*fn1 On April 14, 2006, defendants filed an answer to the complaint raising affirmative defenses.

On August 16, 2006, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and supporting documents. A brief in support of the motion was also filed. On October 4, 2006, plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. The matter is now ripe for disposition.

Background

In his complaint, plaintiff asserts that he had seven (7) teeth extracted while he was an inmate at SCI-Mahanoy. The first tooth, which broke on June 26, 2004, was checked by defendant Kazmerski at dental sick call on June 28, 2004. It was extracted on July 2, 2004. Three bottom teeth were extracted on July 29, 2004. Three top teeth were extracted on September 27, 2004. Plaintiff asserts he was left with only six (6) bottom front teeth and no top teeth. On November 17, 2004, plaintiff informed defendant Kazmerski that the six bottom teeth were cutting into his top gum when he tried to eat and sleep. Defendant Kazmerski took plaintiff's name and number and told him to check the call out the week after Thanksgiving and he would get plaintiff in for impressions. Plaintiff was not taken in for impressions. Plaintiff spoke with defendant Kazmerski on December 17, 2004 and was told he would check on it. On December 22, 2004, plaintiff signed up for dental sick call and was told by the nurse and defendant Moczulski to sign up the next day because defendant Kazmerski was not in.

On December 23, 2004, plaintiff signed up for dental sick call and was told by defendant Moczulski that he had to wait because they had more serious patients. On January 24, 2005, plaintiff submitted a request for dentures, explaining that his lower teeth were cutting into his top gum when he tried to chew. Plaintiff received a response the next day from defendant Moczulski acknowledging plaintiff's complaint as legitimate and informing plaintiff that he was placing him on his schedule for denture construction and to watch the call out for his first appointment in a few weeks. On March 28, 2005, plaintiff submitted a second request seeking immediate attention. In a response dated March 28, 2005, defendant Moczulski stated that immediate attention was given immediate problems like emergencies and that plaintiff would be seen in April.

On April 22, 2005, impressions were taken of plaintiff by defendant Moczulski. A second set of impressions were taken by defendant Moczulski on May 20, 2005. A fitting was conducted by defendant Moczulski on July 6, 2005. On August 12, 2005, plaintiff received his dentures. Plaintiff asserts that the actions of defendant as set forth above constitute deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of summary judgment. The substantive law determines which facts are material. Id. at 248. A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 250. If the court determines that "the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial'." Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)(citing First Nat. Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). All inferences, however, "'should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true'." Pastore v. Bell Tel. Co. of Pennsylvania, 24 F.3d 508, 512 (3d Cir. 1994)(citing Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. America, Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992); Wicker v. Consol. Rail Corp., 142 F.3d 690, 696 (3d Cir. 1998).

The moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the basis for its motion, identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). As a general rule, unsubstantiated arguments made in briefs are not considered evidence of asserted facts. Versarge v. Township of Clinton, 984 F.2d 1359, 1370 (3d Cir. 1993). The moving party must present competent evidence to support his version of events. Likewise, the nonmoving party "must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment." Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989)(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 257 (1986)). The nonmoving party cannot "simply reassert factually unsupported allegations contained in [the] pleadings." Williams, 891 F.2d at 460 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). "Once the moving party has carried the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists, the nonmoving party ... 'must make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of every element essential to his case, based on the affidavits or by the depositions and admissions on file'." Pastore, 24 F.3d at 511 (citing Harter v. GAF Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 852 (3d Cir. 1992)). If the evidence in favor of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or not significantly probative, summary judgment should be granted. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998)(citing Matsushita Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)).

Discussion

In support of their motion for summary judgment, defendants submitted a brief, statement of material facts and evidentiary materials. In reviewing the documents submitted by defendants, we note that defendants do not dispute the allegations as set forth in plaintiff's complaint. Rather, defendants have incorporated plaintiff's factual allegations into their evidentiary materials and add additional information. The defendants' statement of material facts*fn2 , which is supported by the affidavits of defendant Kazmerski*fn3 and defendant Moczulski*fn4 , as well as plaintiff's medical and dental records*fn5 , establish the following additional information.

While SCI-Mahanoy was originally built to house 1,900 inmates, its actual population is several hundred inmates in excess of that number. Defendant Kazmerski and Defendant Moczulski are the only dentists employed full time at SCI-Mahanoy. Defendants point out that when an inmate initially requires dental care at SCI-Mahanoy, he is seen by the first available dentist. The inmate is then permanently assigned to that dentist. The inmate will normally be treated by the assigned dentist, but will be seen by the other staff dentist in emergency or other extraordinary circumstances. The plaintiff came under defendant Kazmerski's care on February 5, 1999. Since that date, defendant Kazmerski has been plaintiff's primary dental care physician.

Defendants state that a large majority of inmates, including plaintiff, had significant dental problems when ...


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