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Meekins v. Law

August 5, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edwin M. Kosik United States District Judge

(Judge Kosik)


I. Introduction

This civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 proceeds on an amended complaint, and sets forth allegations of inadequate medical/dental care by employees at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill (SCI-Camp Hill), Pennsylvania, Plaintiff's place of confinement. On August 8, 2007, the court granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss filed by the Defendants in this action. (Doc. 98.) The following four (4) defendants remain in this action: Gerald Kaspar, David White and James Selcher, all dentists at SCI-Camp Hill, and Dino Angelici, Chief of Bureau of Health Care Services. An answer to the amended complaint was filed on August 28, 2007, and discovery has been ongoing. Presently pending are the following motions: (1) Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 110); (2) Plaintiff's Motion/Letter regarding Timely Mailed Pleadings (Doc. 114); (3) Plaintiff's Motion for Physical Examination (Doc. 117); (4) Defendants' Motion to Join Third Party Defendant (Doc. 119); and (5) Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of the court's Order of January 28, 2008, denying preliminary injunctive relief (Doc. 126).

II. Allegations in the Amended Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that he had a serious condition in both the "medical and dental ramifying sense" that was ignored by Defendants at SCI-Camp Hill. He states that the condition of his teeth was making him extremely ill, and that he required more ". . . than the filling of such infected teeth." (Doc. 19 at 3.) With regard to the remaining Defendants, Plaintiff contends that Kaspar was informed through "Requests to Staff," sick line slips and grievances about his need for treatment, but Kaspar ignored him, failed to provide any medicine for his pain and fabricated responses to his grievances in terms of treatment allegedly offered. Plaintiff specifically refers to a grievance dated June 20, 2005, wherein Plaintiff complained of his suffering and Kaspar failed to treat his pain as well as delayed treatment/ screening of his condition for months.

Plaintiff also contends that although Defendants Selcher and White were alerted numerous times as to his urgent need for dental/medical care, they failed to address his serious condition. He claims he pointed out to Defendants Selcher, White and Angelici through various letters and medical slips that he was ill due to the condition of his teeth, but that they failed to respond properly. Plaintiff specifically states that although he advised said Defendants that his oral condition was causing a "mediciney (sic) aspirin residue taste and drainage into [his] stomach and mouth region" triggering a host of other conditions, Defendants left him in pain and without medication for in excess of 15 - 19 months. (Doc. 1 at 4.)

In March or April of 2006, Plaintiff states he was seen by Defendants Selcher and White in the dental department where it was determined he had periodontal disease, as well as multiple teeth with profound holes and extreme gingivitis. He states that his bottom row of front teeth along with his rear top teeth were rust in color. White and Selcher had Plaintiff return to the dental department on May 11, 2006, at which time they "cleaned and scraped" the discoloration off his teeth.

Plaintiff states he was seen on July 12, 2006, by another doctor who stated that his mouth was seriously infected, and who prescribed antibiotics until Plaintiff could be seen by the prison dental department. Plaintiff claims that he has been experiencing severe pain and pressure in his heart, stomach, testicles and rear right lung - - all stemming from his untreated dental issues. On August 18, 2006, Defendant Selcher visited Plaintiff and informed him that he is unable to define or cure Plaintiff's symptoms, and he will not approve Plaintiff to be seen by an outside medical practice.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to provide adequate medical care to treat/diagnose his illness. He seeks declaratory, injunctive, compensatory and punitive relief.

III. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 110)

Pending is a motion filed by Plaintiff on October 1, 2007, wherein he seeks to compel Defendants to produce responses to discovery requests served in early September of 2007. Plaintiff contends that Defendants failed to respond to the requests, and that the discovery he seeks is relevant to the claims asserted in his amended complaint.

Defendants maintain that the motion is moot because they timely responded to the requests on September 24, 2007, and that Plaintiff must have prepared and submitted his motion for mailing prior to receiving their responses. In support of their argument, they attach as exhibits to their opposition brief a copy of both Plaintiff's discovery requests and their responses thereto. (Doc. 112, Exs. A, B.) In his reply brief, Plaintiff does not claim that Defendants have failed to respond to his requests. Rather, he argues that Defendants are preventing him from obtaining the discovery he needs and thus denying him access to the courts because many of their responses to his requests state that he may schedule an appointment with the Superintendent's Assistant or the Corrections Health ...

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