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Lee v. Jin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 30, 2014

PRESTON LEE, Plaintiff,


LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Chief Magistrate Judge.

Preston Lee ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner currently confined at SCI-Greene. He initiated the above captioned prisoner civil rights action on August 29, 2013, alleging that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious dental needs when they denied him dental care for non-medical reasons - i.e., because dental care is not provided to inmates on weekends and holidays in order to save money. Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, and for the following reasons their motions will be granted.

A. Background

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff was in an altercation while in the exercise yard at SCI-Greene on October 14, 2012, a Sunday. Id. at ¶ 1. As a result, he sustained injuries to his mouth, including fractured gums and a tooth that was knocked out. Id. at ¶¶ 1-2. He was seen by Nurse Ken Kutcher who placed Plaintiff in a medical holding cell (the infirmary) and provided Plaintiff with gauze to stop the bleeding. Id. at ¶ 2. Dr. Jin was notified of Plaintiff's condition, and although he did not examine Plaintiff, he ordered a soft diet and placed Plaintiff on the dentist's list so that he could be seen by a dentist the next morning. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 7, 9. Later on that evening, Nurse Kutcher gave Plaintiff a Tylenol and tried to put the missing tooth back into its socket. Id. at ¶ 3.

Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Krak, the dentist, at 8:45 a.m. the following morning. Id. at ¶ 4. Dr. Krak took x-rays of Plaintiff's mouth and told Plaintiff that he needed emergency oral surgery to save the teeth that were damaged. Id . Dr. Krak also told Plaintiff that it was too late to save the missing tooth because "that operation would have had to [have] taken place within thirty to forty-five minutes of the incident." Id. at ¶ 6.

According to allegations in Plaintiff's original Complaint, Dr. Krak performed surgery on both gum lines and placed a wire along the teeth to keep everything in place. (ECF No. 5 at ¶ 8.) Dr. Krak gave Plaintiff Vicodin and Motrin for the pain. Id . He saw Plaintiff again the following day, October 16, 2012, and noted that Plaintiff's top gum line was still loose. Id. at ¶ 9. He again gave Plaintiff Vicodin and Motrin for the pain and antibiotics to prevent infection. Id.

Plaintiff also stated in his original Complaint that he saw an oral surgeon, Dr. W. Chung, on November 18, 2012. Id. at ¶ 11. Dr. Chung informed Plaintiff that the DOC waited too long to send Plaintiff to him and that as a result Plaintiff's teeth would likely have to come out. Id.

Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Krak again on November 21, 2012, at which time Plaintiff had an infected tooth removed. Id. at ¶ 13.

Plaintiff states that due to cost saving measures, dentists and dental staff are not on site during weekends and holidays so inmates have to wait until a week day in order to receive dental care. (ECF No. 25. at ¶ 8.) This, he says, denies inmates medical care for non-medical reasons. Id. at ¶ 9. He also alleges that CHCA Irma Vihlidal, Superintendent Louis Folino and Secretary of the DOC John Wetzel have done nothing to eliminate this unlawful policy and/or practice. Id. at ¶¶ 10-12. Finally, he alleges that the DOC contracts with Wexford to provide dental care to inmates and that Wexford is engaged in this unlawful policy or practice by not having their dentists and dental staff work on weekends and holidays. Id. at ¶ 13.

B. Standard of Review

All defendants have filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit summarized the standard to be applied in deciding motions to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6):

Under the "notice pleading" standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." As explicated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a claimant must state a "plausible" claim for relief, and "[a] claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Although "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), a plaintiff "need only put forth allegations that raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Fowler, 578 F.3d at 213 (quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 117-18 (3d Cir.2013).

Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network , 748 F.3d 142, 147 ...

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