United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER
ADELMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Luis Vasquez, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing
himself, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. I
allowed him to proceed on claims that:
(1) defendant Dr. John Schettle was deliberately indifferent
to his dental needs;
(2) defendants Belinda Schrubbe, Barbara De Lap, Cynthia
Thorpe, Lori Alsum, and Michael Thumer were deliberately
indifferent to his dental needs in connection with their
review of his inmate complaints; and (3) defendants Dr. Man
Lee, Chrystal Marchant, Lori Alsum, and Brian Foster failed
to ensure that institution dentists were complying with
Department of Corrections (DOC) policies. Before me now is
defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff is an inmate at Waupun Correctional Institution.
Dr. Schettle is a dentist at Waupun, under the supervision of
Dr. Lee, the current dental director of the Bureau of Health
Services (BHS). De Lap was the dental director prior to Dr.
Lee. Alsum is the current BHS nursing coordinator. Thorpe was
the BHS nursing coordinator until 2011, when she retired.
Marchant is Waupun's current Health Services Unit (HSU)
manager. Schrubbe was the HSU manager until she retired in
2015. Foster is the current warden at Waupun. During the
events of this complaint Thurmer was the warden.
Dr. Schettle's Treatment of Plaintiff's Dental
29, 2010, plaintiff submitted a dental service request (DSR)
to Dr. Schettle, asking him to check plaintiff for cavities,
gum loss, and fungi/bacteria. Docket No. 32-1, at 11.
Plaintiff explained that he was having “chronic pain .
. ., a foul taste in [his] teeth, and foul smell.”
Id. Plaintiff indicated that he would like
medication for the “pain, fungi, [and] bacteria.”
days later, on August 3, 2010, plaintiff was seen by Dr.
Schettle. Docket No. 46, ¶ 3. At the appointment,
plaintiff complained about chronic pain and sensitivity to
cold in his lower left tooth. Id. ¶ 4. Dr.
Schettle informed plaintiff that there was a cavity in the
tooth. Id. ¶ 5. Dr. Schettle decided not to
address the cavity at that time. According to Dr. Schettle,
plaintiff had inflamed gingival tissue that would have bled
and “adversely affected the caries removal and
placement of the filling.” Docket No. 44, ¶ 26.
Plaintiff disputes this explanation, pointing out that Dr.
Schettle's records do not make note of “inflamed
gingival tissue.” According to plaintiff, the teeth on
the left side of plaintiff's mouth had been
cleaned at a previous appointment on June 4, 2010, and
despite the cavity being on that side of plaintiff's
mouth, Dr. Schettle wanted the teeth on the right
side of plaintiff's mouth to be cleaned before he would
address the cavity. Id. ¶ 11; Docket No. 44,
August 30, 2010, plaintiff submitted a DSR to Dr. Schettle,
expressing his concerns about the periodontal disease that he
feared was “further attacking [his] gums.” Docket
No. 32-1, at 13. Plaintiff asserted that he was brushing his
teeth three times per day and flossing, but he believed he
was continuing to lose gum tissue. Id. He stated
that the conditions were “causing [him] chronic
sensitivity and excruciating piercing-sharp pain.”
Id. Plaintiff asked how much longer he would have to
wait for “teeth cleaning and dental surgery to restore
[his] gums.” Id. He also asked for “pain
medication for the intense pain.” Id.
Schettle responded the next day. In reference to
plaintiff's request for “teeth cleaning, ”
Dr. Schettle informed plaintiff that he “should be seen
next week by the hygienist.” Id. He also
explained that plaintiff's concerns would be addressed at
his next dental visit.” Id. Dr. Schettle did
not address plaintiff's request for pain medication.
Docket No. 46, ¶ 26. He explains that he did not
prescribe pain medication because, three weeks earlier,
plaintiff had received a prescription for thirty tablets of
600 mg ibuprofen and plaintiff was being offered another pain
reliever (gabapentin) four times per day. Docket No. 44,
little over a week later, on September 10, 2010, plaintiff
was seen by the hygienist, and the teeth on the right side of
his mouth were cleaned. Id. ¶ 34. Dr. Schettle
did not fill the cavity in plaintiff's tooth at the
appointment because he was seen only by the hygienist. Docket
No. 46, ¶ 45. After this appointment, Dr. Schettle
received another DSR from plaintiff, which was dated the day
before plaintiff's appointment. Docket No. 44, ¶ 37.
The DSR requested medication and referenced issues with ten
teeth. Id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff explained:
My dental condition(s) is causing severe headaches, chewing
difficulties and inability to drink cold water, milk, juice,
etc. My dental condition is also interfering with my daily
activities and state of sleep. The ibuprofen 600 MG that the
MD gave me doesn't adequately or effectively relieve the
pain; the pain returns when I eat, chew, drink cold fluids,
brush my teeth -gums and when I rinse my mouth. The sensitive
toothpaste does not adequately soothe the nerve, nor
adequately protect against sudden sharp or shock pain. The
pain is unbearable. Please order for me a
“strong” prescription for the pain.
No. 32-1, at 14; Docket No. 46, ¶¶ 36-40.
Schettle responded, “Seen today with hygienist. Please
start using dental floss on a daily basis as discussed with
the hygienist.” Docket No. 32-1, at 14. Dr.
Schettle did not address plaintiff's complaints of pain.
Docket No. 46, ¶ 50. According to Dr. Schettle, the
hygienist made no entry in her notes about complaints of
pain, and “the scaling/root plane procedure should have
resulted in a reduction of [plaintiff's]
discomfort.” Docket No. 44, ¶ 38. He believed
plaintiff's request for a “strong”
prescription was a request for opioid medication, which he
did not believe was medically necessary. Docket No. 44,
¶ 38. Despite informing plaintiff that he would attempt
to restore his tooth after the hygienist cleaned his