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Martin v. Munsey

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division

February 26, 2019



          Youlee Yim You United States Magistrate Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Shawn Michael Martin brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that two dentists and two dental assistants employed by the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”) were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Compl. 15, ECF #2. He alleges a two-month delay in dental care constituted a wanton infliction of unnecessary pain. He seeks injunctive relief and damages. Defendants have moved for summary judgment (ECF #82).[1] For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted.


         A party is entitled to summary judgment if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” FRCP 56(a). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “When judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the district court is not to make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence and is required to draw all justifiable inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Musick v. Burke, 913 F.2d 1390, 1394 (9th Cir. 1990); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Although “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is] insufficient . . . .” Id. at 252, 255. “Where 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. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation and quotation marks omitted).


         Plaintiff entered ODOC custody on February 23, 2017. Decl. of Dr. Gregory Shook, D.M.D. ¶ 3 (“Shook Decl.”), ECF #83. He was scheduled for a dental intake exam to determine the status of his dental needs. However, plaintiff was almost immediately placed in the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (“DSU”) for engaging in disrespectful and disobedient conduct. Decl. of Shawn Martin ¶ 19 (“Martin Decl.”), ECF #86; Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Factual Issues (“Pl.'s Fact Statement”), Ex. 40, ECF#91-1 (copy of ODOC Misconduct Report describing plaintiff's behavior).

         ODOC takes additional security precautions at the dental clinic for patients housed in DSU, including providing two correctional officers during dental appointments for the security of the dentists and their staff. Shook Decl. ¶¶ 7-8. On March 3, 2017, a nonparty dental assistant rescheduled plaintiff's exam because there were not enough correctional officers available to accompany him to the dental clinic. Id. ¶ 8 (naming dental assistant A. Kidwell).

         On March 10, 2017, plaintiff sent an Inmate Communication Form (“grievance”) to the dental clinic complaining that one of the teeth under the bridge in his mouth was causing him pain, that the bridge had come loose, and that there was a foul odor coming from the area with the bridge. Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff did not request pain medication in this grievance, but he did request dental floss. Shook Decl., Ex. 1, at 16. The dental clinic responded that plaintiff's dental intake exam had been scheduled. Id. Plaintiff's appointment was scheduled for March 15, 2017, but inmates are not told when they have appointments as a security measure. Shook Decl. ¶ 15.

         The dental clinic took x-rays of plaintiff's mouth on March 14, 2017, and a nonparty dentist, Dr. Stephanie Swyter, D.M.D., performed plaintiff's dental intake exam the next day. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Dr. Swyter did not identify any conditions that called for prompt or urgent attention during her examination. Id. ¶ 12.

         Plaintiff submitted another grievance on March 29, 2017. Id. ¶ 15. ODOC staff responded by advising plaintiff that he had an appointment to be seen by the dental clinic. Id. Plaintiff submitted another grievance on April 12, 2017, and ODOC responded about two weeks later explaining his transfer to a new facility had caused a delay. Pl.'s Fact Statement, Ex. 20 (Grievance Response dated April 27, 2017). ODOC notified the receiving facility of plaintiff's need for dental care. Id.

         On April 18, 2017, plaintiff reported to a triage nurse that there was no change in his condition. Shook Decl. ¶ 17. The triage nurse also determined that plaintiff's condition did not require urgent attention. Id.

         Dr. David Miller, D.M.D., examined plaintiff on May 1, 2017. Plaintiff complained of tooth pain. Id. ¶ 20. Dr. Miller's chart notes show that plaintiff had many missing teeth, a fractured porcelain bridge, significant decay in teeth supporting the bridge, moderate gum disease, a loose abutment crown, two diseased teeth with poor restorability prognosis (numbers 2 and 7), and palpation testing that was within normal limits. Id. Plaintiff indicated he would prefer a root canal to extraction on teeth numbers 2 and 7 and would submit paperwork for approval to the Therapeutic Level of Care Committee. Id.

         The committee denied plaintiff's request for a root canal, citing plaintiff's high rate of decay and poor oral hygiene. Id. ¶ 21. Instead, the committee recommended extraction and approved the fabrication of partial dentures following the extractions. Pl.'s Fact Statement, Ex. 4.

         Dr. Miller discussed the committee's decision with plaintiff on May 10, 2017, and plaintiff agreed to the extractions. Shook Decl. ¶ 22. On May 10, 2017, Dr. Miller extracted two teeth and performed four additional extractions on June 14, 2017. Id. ΒΆ 23. Plaintiff was given an anesthetic during the procedures, and Norco (hydrocodone), Roxicet (oxycodone and acetaminophen), and Ibuprofen for pain ...

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