United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB, DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Samterious Gordon is proceeding on claims that
staff at New Lisbon Correctional Institution violated his
rights under the Eighth Amendment and state law by failing to
provide him adequate dental care. In particular, he contends
that security staff (defendants Joseph Fraundorf, Nicholas
Sieber and Drew Cross) refused to contact dental or health
services despite knowing he was in pain; health services
nursing staff (defendants Koreen Frisk, Bridget Rink, Nicole
Krahenbuhl, Jamie Gohde, Jamie Barker and Lynn Dobbert)
failed to properly triage two dental service requests that he
filed; and dental services staff (defendants Dr. Michael
Brown, Dr. Mann Lee and Morghan Gilson Noth) failed to
provide timely dental services. Before the court is
defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. #41.
response to defendants' motion, plaintiff has agreed that
his claims against Frisk, Rink and Kahenbuhl should be
dismissed, dkt. #54 at 1, so I will not discuss those
defendants further. As for the other defendants, plaintiff
has failed to present evidence that Brown, Gohde, Barker,
Lee, Noth and Sieber violated his rights under the Eighth
Amendment or state law. Therefore, I will grant summary
judgment in favor of those defendants. However, there is a
genuine dispute of material fact as to whether defendants
Dobbert, Fraundorf and Cross acted with deliberate
indifference or negligence to his serious dental needs.
Therefore, I will deny the motion for summary judgment as to
Dobbert, Fraundorf and Cross.
the parties' proposed findings of fact, I find the
following facts to be material and undisputed unless
Samterious Gordon was an inmate at New Lisbon Correctional
Institution at all times relevant to this lawsuit. Defendant
Dr. Mann Lee is the dental director for the Department of
Corrections Bureau of Health Services. He makes all staffing
and hiring decisions for dentists, dental assistants and
dental hygienists, though the number of staff he is able to
hire is determined by the Division of Adult Institutions
Bureau of Health Services budget. As the dental director, Lee
does not triage or assess individual care unless it is
brought to his attention after the fact through an inmate
remaining defendants worked at New Lisbon Correctional
Institution during the relevant time period. Dr. Michael
Brown is a dentist; Morghan Gilson Noth is a dental
assistant; Lynn Dobbert and Jamie Gohde were nurse
clinicians; Drew Cross was a correctional sergeant; Joseph
Fraundorf and Nicholas Sieber were correctional officers; and
Jamie Barker was the interim health services unit manager
from February 2018 to May 2018. Barker was not involved with
staffing of dentists or dental hygienists.
November 7, 2016, a dentist at Dodge Correctional Institution
advised plaintiff that he needed a filling or extraction of
an upper right tooth and that he should submit a dental
service request for the work. Plaintiff did not submit any
dental service requests for the tooth until January 19, 2018,
after he had been transferred to New Lisbon.
days before January 19, 2019, plaintiff's tooth starting
hurting, his mouth was bleeding, he had headaches and he
could not eat or sleep. On January 19, plaintiff submitted a
dental service request stating that he had been “having
trouble” with his back tooth since “biting a
penny” at the county jail, that he was in pain and that
he needed someone to look at it as soon as possible. Dkt.
January 20, 2018, defendant Nurse Dobbert was the only health
services staff member working. She retrieved plaintiff's
dental service request, date-stamped it and triaged it. When
nursing staff triages dental service requests, they review
the requests for urgent or emergent dental problems. If the
request is not urgent or emergent, nursing staff forwards the
request to the dentist. Dobbert reviewed plaintiff's
request, decided it was not urgent or emergent and forwarded
it to the dentist. She did not contact plaintiff or offer him
any pain medication.
dental service request is forwarded, the dentist determines
if and when a patient needs to be seen by dental services. In
January 2019, a dentist was at New Lisbon between one and
three days a week. Under Division of Adult Institutions
policy 500.40.02, only dentists and registered nurses may
determine if and when an inmate requires dental services. If
the dentist is out, a nurse must triage requests for service.
Dental assistants and hygienists are not permitted to triage
dental service requests. Dkt. #42-2. They also are not
permitted to prescribe medication.
Brown received and triaged plaintiff's dental service
request on January 22, 2018. Brown determined that the
request did not state an urgent need because plaintiff was
referring to a county jail incident that occurred before 2016
when Dodge Correctional Institution provided a comprehensive
intake dental exam and took x-rays. In addition, there were
no notes in his dental record indicating that plaintiff had
reported pain in his back tooth or requested treatment in
2016 or 2017. On January 22, Brown notified plaintiff that he
would be placed on the routine waiting list, with an
approximate wait time of 12 months.
saw a primary physician on February 2, 2018 for other medical
problems, and he did not complain of tooth pain. If he had
complained of tooth pain, he would have been referred
directly to dental services and likely would have been seen
the same day.
February 13, 2018, part of plaintiff's tooth broke.
(Plaintiff says he showed his broken tooth to correctional
officers Sieber, Cross and Fraundorf, told them he was in
pain and asked them to contact health services for him, but
they refused to do so. Plaintiff says defendants responded by
stating that they were not dentists and that there was no
tooth fairy at the prison. Defendants deny that plaintiff