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Singleton v. Beadle

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 23, 2019

DR. ROBERT BEADLE, et al., Defendants


          Robert D. Mariani, United States District Judge.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Amos James Singleton ("Singleton"), an inmate who, at all relevant times, was housed at the Benner Township State Correctional Institution, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Benner Township"), initiated the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The remaining Defendants are Dr. Robert Beadle and dental assistant Jessica Habovich.[1] Singleton alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with adequate dental care. (Id. at pp. 2, 5-7).

         Presently pending before the Court is a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 filed on behalf of Defendants Beadle and Habovich. (Doc. 56). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         Through summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to materiality, ... [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must offer specific facts contradicting those averred by the movant to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). Therefore, the non-moving party may not oppose summary judgment simply on the basis of the pleadings, or on conclusory statements that a factual issue exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record ... or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). In evaluating whether summary judgment should be granted, "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "Inferences 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." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.1992), cert, denied507 U.S. 912 (1993).

         However, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). If a party has carried its burden under the summary judgment rule,

its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. 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. When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.

Id. (internal quotations, citations, and alterations omitted).

         III. Statement of Undisputed Facts[2]

         Singleton has never had dental care outside of a correctional setting. (Doc. 58, Statement of Material Facts ("SMF"), ¶ 1). Singleton suffers from periodontal disease and does not have all of his natural teeth. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3). In the past, Singleton had teeth pulled, he was always under anesthesia, and did not experience any pain. (Id. at ¶ 4).

         At some point between 1995 and 1997, during Singleton's incarceration with the Department of Corrections ("DOC"), he was provided dentures with approximately five to six teeth. (Id. at ¶ 5). Since he received those dentures, Singleton lost five to six teeth needed to support the dentures. (Id. at ¶ 6). Singleton was told by DOC staff that he would receive new dentures. (Id. at ¶ 7).

         On March 31, 2015, Singleton was scheduled to meet dental staff in preparation for dentures and to have two teeth filled for cavities. (Id. at ¶ 8). Singleton understood that dental staff were not planning to pull any teeth that day. (Id. at ¶ 9). During the visit, Dr. Beadle and dental assistant Habovich told Singleton that he would not receive new dentures because the DOC previously gave him partial dentures approximately ten or twenty years ago. (Id. at ¶ 10). After Dr. Beadle repaired the cavities, Singleton stated that he just "went in there" and pulled out a tooth. (Id. at ¶ 11). Singleton felt "a sharp, tugging pain of the tooth being extracted" and jumped out of the chair. (Id. at ¶ 12). The tooth pulled was a healthy tooth. (Id. at ¶ 13). Singleton did not see what tool Dr. Beadle used to pull the tooth. (Id. at¶ 14). Dr. Beadle and Habovich laughed, and Singleton believes Habovich stated, "Oops. My bad." (Id. at ¶ 15).

         Pulling the tooth was an accident. (Id. at ¶ 16). At his deposition, Singleton testified, "When they realized that I was in pain from pulling the tooth and that I wasn't scheduled to have a tooth pulled, it was more like damn, we -- we made a mistake. Ha, ha, ha." (Id. at ¶ 17). Singleton asked, "what... the hell did you-all just do?" (Id. at ¶ 18). Habovich responded, "pulled the tooth." (Id. at ¶ 19). Dr. Beadle responded that the tooth was loose anyway. (W. at¶ 20). Singleton then left to file a grievance. (Id. at¶ 21).

         As a dental assistant, Habovich handed Dr. Beadle the tools, put the suction tool in Singleton's mouth, and did what Dr. Beadle asked her to do. (Id. at ¶ 22).

         Singleton has no doubt that Dr. Beadle was the only one involved in pulling the tooth. (Id. at ¶ 23). Although pulling the tooth was an accident, Singleton believes it was still deliberate because Dr. Beadle should have known better. (Id. at ¶ 24). Singleton was not given anesthesia, he was not scheduled to have the tooth pulled, and he had not complained about the tooth. (Id.). Singleton did not request further dental treatment. (Id. at ¶ 26).

         In 2015, Singleton was placed on a mechanical soft diet because he has no molars. (Id. at ¶ 25). He remains on a mechanical soft diet today. (Id.).

         For the past three to three and a half years, Singleton has suffered from abscesses, bleeding and pain, and gargles with warm salt water. (Id. at ¶ 27).

         Singleton subsequently underwent throat surgery. (Id. at ¶ 28). During the surgery, the surgeon knocked out one tooth and damaged another one. (Id.). Dental staff at the institution extracted the damaged tooth. (Id.). At that time, Singleton also started the process to obtain new dentures, had imprints and impressions made, and was going to receive new dentures by December 2018. (Id. at ¶ 29).

         IV. Discussion

         Defendants seek an entry of judgment in their favor on the following grounds: (1) the Fifth Amendment is not applicable to state actors; (2) the Fourteenth Amendment claim is duplicative of the Eighth Amendment claim; (3) Singleton failed to establish an equal protection claim; (4) Defendant Habovich was not personally involved in the alleged wrongs; (5) Singleton failed to establish a conspiracy claim; (6) Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Singleton's serious ...

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