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Ingram v. Sochacki

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 13, 2017

JOHN INGRAM, Plaintiff,



         The plaintiff, John Ingram, is currently incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution (“Cheshire”). He has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against David Sochacki, DDS, John F. Dupont, Jr., DDS, Victor W. Shivy, DDS, Dr. Richard Benoit, DMD, Bruce Lichtenstein, DMD, Peter O'Shea, DDS, and Sharon Brown, Health Services Administrator.

         I. Standard

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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.” Id. This requirement applies both where the inmate has paid the filing fee and where he is proceeding in forma pauperis. See Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam). Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions, ' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, ' ” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         II. Plaintiff's Claims

         The plaintiff alleges that in July 2012, at Cheshire, he sought dental treatment for severe pain in the area of his lower front teeth. Drs. Sochacki and Shivy did not examine him until about three weeks later, in August 2012, and he experienced severe pain during this interval. Either Dr. Sochacki or Dr. Shivy took x-rays of the plaintiff's teeth. Dr. Sochacki opined that tooth number 23 and tooth number 24 must be extracted because the dental department at Cheshire could not perform root canals of those teeth. Dr. Sochacki prescribed pain medication and indicated that the extractions would take place at a later date.

         The plaintiff suffered excruciating pain during August and September 2012 because the pain medication was ineffective. In September, he submitted a request to the dental department regarding the pain that he was experiencing in the area of his lower, front teeth, but no one responded to the request. He then submitted a medical grievance to Health Services Administrator Sharon Brown complaining that he was being denied a root canal and was experiencing pain in his lower teeth, and that the medication that Dr. Sochacki had prescribed had been ineffective in alleviating the pain. Sharon Brown did not respond to the grievance. The plaintiff alleges that internal DOC directives regarding answering medical complaints and grievances are unconstitutional because they do not provide a timeframe for a response.

         At some point in September 2012, Dr. Sochacki extracted tooth number 23 and tooth number 24. Dr. Sochacki told the plaintiff that the DOC does not provide root canals “just to prevent tooth extractions.” Dr. Sochacki refused to prescribe pain medication to the plaintiff after the extractions. Several days later, the site of the extractions became painful. The plaintiff experienced pain for about a month and was unable to eat solid foods. He sought medication, but Dr. Sochacki refused to address his complaints or prescribe him pain medication.

         In November 2012, Drs. Sochacki and Dupont extracted tooth number 25 and tooth number 26 from the plaintiff's jaw. Dr. Sochacki informed the plaintiff that he would be eligible to receive partial dentures.

         On June 12, 2014, Dr. O'Shea extracted the plaintiff's right upper molar, tooth number 2, because of heavy tartar, plaque, bone loss and lack of stability. The plaintiff claims that tooth number 2 did not have to be extracted and could have been saved. The plaintiff alleges Dr. O'Shea did not take an x-ray of tooth number 2 to determine the degree of bone loss prior to extracting tooth number 2.

         In June 2016, Dr. Lichtenstein examined the plaintiff and reviewed the prior x-rays of the plaintiff's teeth numbers 23, 24, 25, 26. He concluded that two of the four teeth that had been extracted should not have been extracted and could have been saved. (Compl., ECF No. 19 at 2.)

         Dr. Benoit is the Director of Dentistry for Correctional Managed Health Care. The plaintiff claims that Dr. Benoit failed to properly train Drs. Sochacki, Dupont, Shivy and O'Shea. In addition, Dr. Benoit was aware of the deficiencies in the dental program including inadequate staffing and inadequate training and delays in treatment at Cheshire.

         The plaintiff sues defendants Brown, Lichtenstein, Sochacki, Dupont, Shivy, and O'Shea in their individual capacities only and defendant Benoit in his official capacity only. The plaintiff ...

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