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Brown v. Benoit

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 24, 2017

KENYA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD P. BENOIT, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Kenya Brown, currently confined at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his dental needs and challenging the constitutionality of Administrative Directive 8.4 which governs dental services. Brown names as defendants Dentists Richard P. Benoit and Bruce Lichtenstein. The complaint was filed on January 12, 2017. Brown's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on January 17, 2017.

         Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         I. Allegations

         Dr. Lichtenstein has been providing dental care for Brown since August 2008. At that time, Dr. Lichtenstein became aware that tooth #19 needed repair. Dr. Lichtenstein did not provide corrective measures to halt further decay of the tooth. In April 2010, it was again documented that tooth #19 had deep decay and had fractured. At that time, Dr. Deflorio put Brown on a list for a filing, but did not follow up to ensure that treatment was provided. In July 2010, Dr. Cuevas attempted a restoration of tooth #19. He was unsuccessful because the fracture required more time than had been allotted.

         In September 2010, Brown notified the dental department of pain in tooth #20. He told Dr. Cuevas that he experienced extreme discomfort with hot or cold temperatures. Brown alleges that his mistreatment was result of informal policies in effect between 2010 and 2013 in the dental departments at Northern Correctional Institution, Garner Correctional Institution, and MacDougal Correctional Institution that prioritized extraction over prevention or restoration services. As a result of these policies, at an unspecified time, Dr. McGeoghan broke a tooth that did not require removal.

         In September 2012, Brown was subjected to inadequate dental procedures by Dr. Reichler. Brown suffers from a dental complication, known to defendants Benoit and Lichtenstien, whereby he has difficulty achieving pain relief from local anesthesia. While attempting to extract tooth #22, Dr. Reichler spent over an hour repeatedly breaking off pieces of the tooth to the gum line. Dr. Reichler then left Brown with the nerve exposed for over seven days.

         In July 2013, Dr. Tuttle agreed to try to restore a tooth. She gave Brown multiple injections to try to numb the area. The injections were unsuccessful. Dr. Tuttle drilled a hole directly through Brown's tooth leaving the nerve exposed. When Brown refused any further treatment, Dr. Tuttle allegedly made false sexual allegations against him. That incident is the subject of another lawsuit, Brown v. Tuttle, 3:13cv1444 (VAB). Dr. Benoit did not discipline Dr. Tuttle for making the false charges. Brown experienced severe dental pain until the tooth was finally extracted in August 2013.

         Brown alleges that Dr. Benoit was aware of his difficulty achieving pain relief from local anesthesia but did not arrange for alternatives such as cleanings to prevent decay. Dr. Benoit permitted Dr. Tessler to treat Brown, requiring him to wait unreasonable times for treatment and denying him pain medication. As a result of Dr. Tessler's actions, Brown lost three back teeth, ##30, 31, and 32, as a result of infection.

         On October 23, 2015, Dr. Lichtenstein attempted to restore teeth ## 19 and 20. He did so only after the Attorney General's Office intervened. He had great difficulty restoring tooth #19 because seven years had passed since the decay was first noted. The filling became dislodged and fell out. Dr. Lichtenstein filled the tooth a second time on October 29, 2015. Tooth #20 required a second restoration procedure on December 18, 2015.

         On January 15, 2016, Dr. Lichtenstein noted further decay in tooth #19 but did not restore the tooth or order cleaning. Dr. Lichtenstein faxed his report to Dr. Benoit the same day. Dr. Benoit did not recommend restoration or cleaning.

         Between February 24, 2016, and April 22, 2016, Brown was fitted for partial dentures and the dentures were manufactured. Brown received one set of partial dentures on April 22, 2016. On May 19, 2016, Brown committed an act of self-harm and was admitted to the infirmary at Corrigan Correctional Institution. Correctional Officer Murphy packed Brown's property. Brown believed that that his partial dentures were destroyed or thrown away and informed the AAG Varunes, who had been involved in obtaining the partial dentures, of his beliefs.

         On May 31, 2016, Brown was transferred. During intake, Brown told the nurse that his partial dentures were missing and that he needed to see the dental department. He also wrote to the dental department. Dr. Lichtenstein should have known that Brown would suffer pain and discomfort and experience difficulty eating without the partial dentures, but did not respond to Brown's complaint. After waiting for a response from Dr. Lichtenstein for three months, [1] Brown filed a grievance. On July 1, 2016, Brown wrote to the dental unit and stated that his filling had fallen out and that he had been writing to the dental unit since June 26, 2016. On July 5, 2016, Dr. Lichtenstein indicated that Brown was on the list for dental services. On August 5, 2016, Brown submitted a grievance addressing his dental needs. On August 11, 2016, Dr. Lichtenstein responded and stated that he served 1400 inmates by himself, had not had an assistant for three months, and that there was a 4-5 month delay in dental services.

         Brown's appeal was denied by Dr. Lichtenstein on August 23, 2016. Pursuant to Administrative Directive 8.9, the doctor who was the subject of the grievance is permitted to rule on the grievance. Brown views this rule as discriminatory and a denial of due process. Brown alleges that Dr. Benoit has ...


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