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Lamb v. Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 27, 2018

CASEY LAMB, Plaintiff,


          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         Plaintiff Casey Lamb, who is representing himself, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. (“ACH”), Julie Sieczkowski, Litisha Ramus, Sarah Hoffman, and Dr. Dan Hekman (collectively, “the Individual Defendants”), and Racine County were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need for dental treatment. Lamb, who was serving an Illinois prison sentence, was incarcerated at the Racine County Jail at the time he filed his complaint, but he has since been returned to Illinois and completed his sentence. This matter comes before the court on two motions for summary judgment, one by ACH and the Individual Defendants (ECF No. 47) and the other by Racine County (ECF No. 73). For the reasons stated below, both motions will be granted.


         What follows is a statement of the undisputed facts as set forth in the parties' proposed findings of fact, as well as the documentary evidence submitted by the parties. The Illinois Department of Corrections transferred Lamb to the Racine County Jail on February 16, 2017. ACH Defs.' Proposed Findings of Fact (ACH PFOF) ¶ 1, ECF No. 52. On a medical screening form completed at the jail at the time of Lamb's transfer, a box is checked “no” in response to the question “Do you have a painful dental condition, ” but Lamb disputes this and states that he answered “yes.” ACH PFOF ¶ 2 (citing ECF No. 49-1 at 5); Lamb's Proposed Findings of Fact (Lamb PFOF) ¶ 1, ECF No. 69.

         Lamb submitted two Inmate Request/Complaint forms on February 20, 2017, just a few days after he arrived at the jail. ACH PFOF ¶ 3 (citing ECF No. 49-1 at 11). The first stated that two fillings in his teeth had fallen out since he had arrived at the jail, that he had multiple cracks in his teeth leaving “exposed nerve endings, ” that he was experiencing pain, and that these teeth were showing signs of infection that he feared could lead to more serious complications. Id. ¶¶ 4-5 (citing ECF No. 49-1 at 11). He asked for pain medication, antibiotics, an oral rinse, and to see a dentist as soon as possible “for extractions/amalgams.” Id. ¶ 6. Lamb's second request that day concerned a request to obtain a second mattress related to his back injuries. Id. ¶ 9.

         Defendant Registered Nurse Sieczkowski examined Lamb on February 23, 2017. Id. ¶ 11; see also ECF No. 49-1 at 12-13. Lamb reported chronic dental pain that had lasted at least 3 months. ACH PFOF ¶ 12; ECF No. 49-1 at 12. Sieczkowski's treatment notes state that two fillings were missing, that Lamb's gums were moist and pink, and that Lamb reported that his teeth were very sensitive and tasted and smelled of decay. ACH PFOF ¶ 15; ECF No. 49-1 at 12. Defendant Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber (APNP) Ramus reviewed Sieczkowski's assessment that same day. ACH PFOF ¶ 18. Her review articulated a specific plan to address Lamb's dental needs, prescribing a soft diet for 7 days, an oragel packet each day for 7 days, and 1, 000 mg of Tylenol for 3 days. Id. ¶ 22; ECF No. 49-1 at 13.

         The next day (February 24, 2017) Lamb filed another Inmate Request form. ACH PFOF ¶ 23; ECF No. 49-1 at 14. In the request, Lamb claimed that during intake he was told that a nurse would evaluate him free of charge, that he only received an evaluation from a nurse when he filed a request form, and that he objected to the $10.00 charge he received for the evaluation. ACH PFOF ¶¶ 24-25; ECF No. 49-1 at 14. That same day, APNP Ramus reviewed Lamb's request and wrote a response explaining that, at the jail, corrections staff performs a routine medical screening during intake, it is not jail policy to provide a routine medical evaluation within 72 hours of booking, and the jail charges $10.00 for non-emergency medical evaluations by a medical staff member. ACH PFOF ¶¶ 26-27, 29; ECF No. 49-1 at 15.

         Two days later (February 26, 2017), Lamb filed an Inmate Request form inquiring into “the status of [his] dental needs.” ACH PFOF ¶ 30; ECF No. 49-1 at 16. He wrote, “I need, not want to see a D.D.S. for extractions/amalgams and any other necessary work/treatment A.S.A.P.” ECF No. 49-1 at 16. The following day (February 27, 2017), he submitted another Inmate Request form, this time requesting that he be given ibuprofen for his dental and back pain. ACH PFOF ¶¶ 33, 35; ECF No. 49-1 at 18. He clarified, however, that he did not want ibuprofen if he would be charged for it. ACH PFOF ¶ 34. Lamb filed yet another Inmate Request form the next day (February 28, 2017), this time asking that his soft diet be continued indefinitely past March 3 and that he receive another Tylenol prescription, although he added that he did not want to pay for any medication. Id. ¶ 36; ECF No. 49-1 at 19.

         Defendant Registered Nurse Hoffman personally evaluated Lamb on March 1, 2017. ACH PFOF ¶ 37. Her dental progress notes indicate that Lamb's teeth were sensitive to hot and cold, that he had erythema present at the gum line (a possible sign of infection), and that there was inflammation present on his right jaw. Id. ¶ 38; ECF No. 49-1 at 20. Defendant APNP Ramus reviewed NP Hoffman's evaluation and concluded that Lamb had a dental abscess. ACH PFOF ¶ 39; ECF No. 49-1 at 21. Ramus ordered the extra mattress Lamb had requested and prescribed 1, 000 mg of amoxicillin for 10 days, 1, 000 mg of Tylenol for 5 days, and an extension of his soft diet for 14 days. ACH PFOF ¶¶ 40-41.

         In an Inmate Request form on March 6, 2017, Lamb requested a knee brace and tennis shoes, adding that he would be willing to pay for the brace, shoes, and medication, as well as another assessment, if necessary. ACH PFOF ¶¶ 42-43. On March 7, 2017, Lamb filed an Inmate Complaint form regarding his desire for dental care. Id. ¶ 44; ECF No. 49-1 at 28. Reiterating his desire for an immediate dental appointment, he stated that he had filed a federal complaint under § 1983 alleging that jail officials had shown deliberate indifference to his serious dental needs. ACH PFOF ¶ 45.

         Defendant Dr. Hekman examined Lamb on March 9, 2017. Id. ¶ 46. In addition to addressing Lamb's physical complaints, Dr. Hekman observed that Lamb was missing fillings and had dental nerves exposed. ECF No. 49-1 at 30. He therefore ordered that Lamb continue his soft diet indefinitely, and he prescribed 900 mg of Tylenol for 30 days. ACH PFOF ¶ 47. Lamb does not dispute that Dr. Hekman did not note signs or symptoms of infection during the March 9 examination, indicating that the course of antibiotics prescribed on March 1 had effectively treated the erythema and inflammation previously observed. Id. ¶ 48. Subsequently, on March 15, 2017, APNP Ramus ordered a dental referral for Lamb in response to his continued reports of pain following his examination by Dr. Hekman. ACH PFOF ¶ 50 (citing ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 27-29).

         Lamb eventually saw outside dentist Dr. Adrian Rivas on May 17, 2017. ACH PFOF ¶ 51. Some of the teeth at issue were extracted during that appointment. Id. ¶ 50. Lamb objects to the characterization of the extraction by ACH and the Individual Defendants, noting that he required further dental treatment following his appointment with Dr. Rivas. ECF No. 70 ¶ 51 . By June 2017, Lamb left the Racine Count Jail and returned to custody in Illinois. See ECF No. 23. Additional relevant undisputed factual material will be discussed in the analysis below.


         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). All reasonable inferences are construed in favor of the nonmoving party. Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment must “submit evidentiary materials that set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 612 F.3d 932, 937 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoted source and internal quotation marks omitted). “The nonmoving party must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. Summary judgment is properly entered against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the ...

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