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Williams v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. and Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

August 26, 2019


          Thomas M. Rose District Judge.


          Sharon L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Melody L. Williams was, for a time, an inmate at the Dayton Correctional Institution. She is presently incarcerated (since mid-September 2016) in the Ohio Reformatory for Women. Her original Complaint advanced many theories of liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, most of which were previously dismissed. Plaintiff's enduring claims focus on her allegations that the dental and medical care she did and did not receive while an inmate at the Dayton Correctional Institution (DCI) and the Ohio Reformatory for Women violated her rights under the Constitution. She lodges her claims under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

         Her remaining claims fall upon Defendants Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction/Gary Moore; DCI Warden Wanza Jackson-Mitchell; DCI physicians Dr. Moore-Dulan and Dr. Dulan; DCI health care administrator Ms. Jenkins-Harris; and four or five dentists (names unknown) at DCI. (Doc. #37, PageID #919).

         The case is presently pending upon Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #33), Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. #37), Plaintiff's Objection to Magistrate Judge Order (Doc. #38), Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. #39), and the record as a whole. Although Plaintiff's Amended Complaint was docketed after Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants received a copy of the Amended Complaint from Plaintiff well before it was docketed. See Doc. #25, PageID #746. Defendants address Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in their pending Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendants seek summary judgment on all Plaintiff's remaining claims.

         II. Summary Judgment

         A party is entitled to summary judgment when there is no genuine dispute over any material fact and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Barker v. Goodrich, 649 F.3d 428, 432 (6th Cir. 2011). “A fact is material if it would establish or refute an ‘essential element[ ] of a cause of action or defense asserted by the parties[.]'” Estate of Romain v. City of Grosse Pointe Farms, F.3d, 2019 WL 3808877, at *3 (6th Cir. 2019) (citation omitted); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine where “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986); see Estate of Romain___, F.3d___, 2019 WL 3808877, at *3 (citation omitted).

         To resolve whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Richland Bookmart, Inc. v. Knox County, Tenn., 555 F.3d 512, 520 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986)). With these reasonable inferences in the forefront, “[t]he central issue is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Jones v. Potter, 488 F.3d 397, 402-03 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting, in part, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges the following. For three years at DCI, Dr. Moore, Dr. Dulan, and Ms. Jenkins allowed her to suffer from her serious medical problems and ignored her serious medical needs, including treatment for H. pylori.[2] On August 2, 2016, she was in the Captain's Office at DCI when she “felt the overall area of her naval ball up into a knot and explode.” (Doc. #37, PageID #920). She was rushed to the infirmary where she could not stand, walk, or move without experiencing violent pain waves through her spine. Dr. Dulan briefly examined her but did not examine her abdomen or spine. Dr. Dulan ignored her requests for immediate emergency medical attention. She was instead given Mylanta and forced to return to her Housing Unit. She had “severe pain all night, and the following day, [her] right leg and foot had a sensitivity to touch, a hot burning tingling sensation, and the toe on her right foot would lock and stick together.” Id. at 921. Plaintiff's “back felt as if it had been burned from the inside out and there was burning and tenderness above her naval (abdomen).” Id. Plaintiff asserts that the repeated denial of medical care for H. pylori caused her to develop ulcers “one of which did perforate and cause severe injury and trauma to [her] spine and abdomen.” Id. at 921.

         Plaintiff also recounts that she was repeatedly denied prompt and adequate medical care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This occurred even after Drs. Dulan and Moore were informed that Plaintiff had a thirty-year history of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. She has restricted breathing and a severe cough for which she was repeatedly denied adequate medical testing, diagnosis, and treatment. These health problems prevented her from lying down, sleeping, running, walking, and working. These health problems also cause her to vomit and lose control of her bladder.

         As to her dental problems, Plaintiff understands that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and DCI have a policy that requires inmates to wait one year from when they are first incarcerated to receive dental care, except for tooth retractions. She maintains that she was denied dental care for over one year for her existing dental problems, and she was denied preventative dental care for over one year, starting from her incarceration at DCI. She explains:

Plaintiff did enter the ODRC prison system with considerable dental issues, the first being dental issues that had been started, but not completed, due to [her] sudden incarceration, such as capping of her two front feet after four root canals. Because of incomplete dental procedures, [she] had two open and exposed teeth in the very front of her mouth, as well as a post that needed to be removed from a prior root canal that constantly raised up through the gums creating severe pain, bleeding and tenderness.

Id. at 922-23. Plaintiff was also missing most of her back teeth on both sides of her mouth from, as she sees it, “erosion from mercury fillings as a child, and due to a history of heavy smoking. As a result, [her] teeth were in desperate need of repair upon incarceration.” Id. at 923. She also had several cavities that needed to be filled. She notes that she has a history of severe gum disease and grinds her teeth at night.

         A dentist at DCI told Plaintiff that “it was not the policy of ODRC or DCI to perform root canals or to cap or crown teeth, and her two front teeth could not be saved or repaired and would need to be retracted. Plaintiff did refuse to have the teeth extracted on all occasions hoping to save the teeth.” Id.

         In September 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to the Ohio Reformatory for Women. When she arrived there, she was very sick. A nurse practitioner diagnosed Plaintiff with H. pylori “that Dr. Moore alleged to have eradicated.” Id. at 924. She still experienced chronic stomach pains and felt “as though she had H-pylori. The gnawing, burning, acidity sensation continued in her stomach and [she] was unable to sleep and always felt like she was starving.” Id. at 925.

         To treat her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, she was given two inhalers (Symbicort and Albuterol) and placed on a breathing treatment three times a day. She was denied testing, like an MRI, an endoscopy, and x-rays, to determine the extent of her abdominal and spinal injuries. She was not provided with a treatment plan to rid her of constant pain. Id. at 924.

         Defendants find much missing from Plaintiff's recounting of her medical problems. They assert that Defendants have attempted to provide her with medical treatment including a blood test by Dr. Dulan; over-the-counter medications recommended by Defendant Moore; a “cocktail of Amoxicillin, Biazin, and Prilosec for 14 days”; a steroid shot; a sixty-day regimen of Prilosec; Mylanta; upper-gastrointestinal tests; a steroid shot and C-Pac for respiratory infections; an inhaler; a five-day steroid regimen for allergies; and a Barium contrast x-ray. (Doc. #33, PageID #783 (quoting, in part, Doc. #3, PageID #358 and citing PageID #s 357-63)).

         IV. ...

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