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Stark v. Patton

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 11, 2019

LONNIE STARK, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT PATTON, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James H. Payne, United States District Judge.

         This action is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) is incarcerated at John Lilley Correctional Center in Boley, Oklahoma. He brings this action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary and injunctive relief for alleged constitutional violations during his incarceration at Mack Alford Correctional Center in Atoka, Oklahoma (MACC) and Howard McLeod Correctional Center (HMCC) in Atoka, Oklahoma. The defendants are Robert Patton, DOC Director; Tommy Sharp, HMCC Warden; Randy Holland, D.D.S., DOC Chief Dental Officer; and Brandi Birchfiled, HMCC Health Services Administrator.

         Standard of Review

         The pleading standard for all civil actions was articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A court must accept all the well- pleaded allegations of the complaint as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must construe the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. at 555-56. “So, when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” the cause of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558. The Court applies the same standard of review for dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) that is employed for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217-18 (10th Cir. 2007).

         A pro se plaintiff's complaint must be broadly construed under this standard. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The generous construction to be given to the pro se litigant's allegations “does not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Notwithstanding a pro se plaintiff's various mistakes or misunderstandings of legal doctrines or procedural requirements, “if a court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so . . . .” Id. A reviewing court need not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997). With these standards in mind, the court turns to the merits of Defendants' motion.

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 3, 2014, he was working at MACC, assigned as a Department of Transportation crew worker.[1] On that date, the DOC van in which he was a passenger was involved in a collision with a semi truck, after the van driver made an illegal U-turn. Plaintiff and four other occupants were transferred by medical helicopter to a trauma center in Oklahoma City, with the other occupants taken to local hospitals by ambulance. (Dkt. 1 at 3).

         Plaintiff asserts his upper and lower teeth were severely damaged or destroyed as a result of the head trauma he received in the collision. While in intensive care, Defendant Robert Patton, the DOC Director, visited with him and the other victims of the collision. During the visit, Patton allegedly assured Plaintiff the DOC would get his teeth restored to their previous condition, stating that “we owe you some new teeth.” Plaintiff complains Patton's statement never was fulfilled. Id. at 2-4.

         Upon his hospital release, Plaintiff was returned to MACC where he repeatedly requested repair or replacement of his teeth. Id. at 4. On April 9, 2014, he filed a grievance to Warden Jerry Chrisman, stating something needed to be done about his teeth, because he could not eat. Id. at 17. The response, dated April 16, 2014, stated that arrangements had been made for Plaintiff to be evaluated by Defendant Dr. Holland on that date. Id. at 18. Plaintiff apparently received treatment, including stainless steel crowns which he considered “temporary, ” prior to May 1, 2014.

         On May 1, 2014, he filed a Request to Staff (RTS), asking whether he would receive root canals and two permanent white porcelain crowns to replace the temporary crowns on his two front teeth. Id. at 16. He also inquired about replacement of the teeth that were pulled because of the accident. Id. The May 6, 2014, response by Dr. Holland stated:

We are going to do pulp vitality testing on your two front teeth. If the nerves are dead we will do root canals and crowns. If the nerves are alive will do fillings. We do not do permanent crowns in DOC so if crowns are required we will send you to an outside dentist.

Id.

         On May 9, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a Request for Health Services, asking when his next appointment would occur. Id. at 19. The request stated that the broken areas on his three front teeth were beginning to “turn colors.” Id. The response dated May 13, 2014, stated Plaintiff would be scheduled when the dentist returned. Id.

         On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff again submitted a Request for Health Services. Id. at 20. The request stated that the filling on his right front tooth had fallen out, and he needed help. Id. The June 17, 2014, response stated that the request had been sent to dental. Id. Also on June 17, 2014, Plaintiff submitted another Request for Health Services, asking to have the rest of his dental work completed and advising that his lower front tooth needed to be fixed. Id. at 21. The response advised that Plaintiff had an appointment on July 10, 2014. Id.

         On September 25, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a Request for Health Services, again stating that one of the fillings in his right front tooth had fallen out. Id. at 22. The September 29, 2014, response stated that Plaintiff was on the list for an exam. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that after numerous requests for a dental appointment, he only received fillings which fell out. Id. at 4. When he again requested to see the dentist, he was advised that he would be fitted for partial plate dentures. Id. On December 17, 2014, Plaintiff sent two Requests for Health Services to Dr. Holland, inquiring about when he could be fitted for the partial plate and stating that it was beginning to be painful when he chewed. Id. at 23-24. He further stated that it was difficult for him to eat with “just one tooth.” Id. at 23. The responses advised that Dr. Holland would try to see Plaintiff for fillings, which were required before impressions for the partial plate could be done. Id. at 23-24.

         On April 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Request for Health Services, advising Dr. Holland that there was something wrong with his partial plate, and he was unable to eat with it. Id. at 25. The response stated Plaintiff was on the list for an exam. Id. On April 15, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a another request, again stating he could not eat with the partial plate. Id. at 26. The response advised that ...


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