United States District Court, D. Connecticut
October 1, 2019
RULING RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
of the Case
24, 2017, Plaintiff, John Ingram, a state prisoner in the
custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction
(“DOC”), filed a complaint pro se under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several state correctional
dental care professionals for violating his constitutional
rights. Compl. (DE#1). After three amended complaints and a
ruling from this Court granting in part and denying in part a
motion to dismiss, the case now consists of one Eighth
Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to serious dental
needs against three dental care professionals: Dr. David
Sochacki, Dr. Peter O'Shea, and Dr. Richard Benoit.
See Ruling on Mot. to Dismiss (DE#45).
15, 2019, the three remaining defendants
(“Defendants”) moved for summary judgment
asserting that the undisputed material facts demonstrate that
they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Alternatively, they claim that they are entitled to qualified
immunity under the circumstances presented. The Plaintiff
filed his opposition to Defendants' motion on July 17,
2019 and, per the Court's leave, a supplementary
opposition on September 12, 2019. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motion is GRANTED.
seeking summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating
that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute
and that it is “entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is
“material” if it “might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law” and is
“genuine” if “a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986); see also Dister v. Continental Group, Inc.,
859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988) (mere existence of alleged
factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment motion). The
moving party may satisfy this burden “by showing - that
is pointing out to the district court - that there is an
absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315
F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curium) (internal
quotations omitted; citations omitted).
motion for summary judgment is supported by documentary
evidence and sworn affidavits and “demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ” the
nonmoving party “must come forward with specific
evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of
material fact.” Robinson v. Concentra Health
Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). The nonmoving party must do more than vaguely
assert the existence of some unspecified disputed material
facts or “rely on conclusory allegations or
unsubstantiated speculation.” Id. see also First
Nat. Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Service Co., 391
U.S. 253, 289 (1968) (nonmoving party must submit evidence
supporting factual dispute that will require factfinder to
resolve differing versions of truth at trial).
Court must “construe the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and to draw all reasonable
inferences in its favor.” Gary Friedrich Enters.,
L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d
Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). If there is any evidence from
which a reasonable factual inference could be drawn in favor
of the non-moving party for the issue on which summary
judgment is sought, then summary judgment is improper.
See Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight
Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004).
one party is proceeding pro se, the Court must read
his papers liberally and interpret them “to raise the
strongest arguments that they suggest.” Willey v.
Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Despite this liberal
interpretation, however, “[u]nsupported allegations do
not create a material issue of fact” and cannot
overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment.
See Weinstock v. Columbia University, 224 F.3d 33,
41 (2d Cir. 2000).
Court draws the following material facts from the
parties' Local Rule 56(a) Statements and the exhibits on
times relevant to this case, Plaintiff was confined at the
Cheshire Correctional Institution (“Cheshire”) in
Connecticut. Defs.' Ex. A (Pl.'s Med. Records)
(DE#62), 18-29. On September 10, 2012, Plaintiff had a dental
consultation with Dr. Victor Shivy. Id. at 14;
Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement (“Defs.'
Stmt.”) (DE#60-2) ¶ 5; Pl.'s Local Rule
56(a)(2) Statement (“Pl.'s Stmt.”) (DE#73)
¶ 5. During that consultation, Plaintiff gave written
consent for the DOC Division of Health Services to extract
two of his teeth, identified as numbers 23 and 24. Defs.'
Ex. A at 14; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 6; Pl.'s Stmt.
¶ 6. On November 20, 2012, Plaintiff met with Dr. John
F. Dupont for another dental evaluation. Defs.' Stmt.
¶ 7; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 7. During that appointment,
he consented in writing to the extraction of two more of his
teeth, numbers 25 and 26. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 8;
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 8; Defs.' Ex. A at 13. The
extraction occurred that same day. Id.
Sochacki began work at Cheshire on November 2, 2012.
Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 2; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 2;
Defs.' Ex. B ¶ 6. On November 26, 2012, he wrote a
note in Plaintiff's medical chart stating, “Area
healing well, ” presumably in reference to the teeth
extraction on November 20, 2012. Pl.'s Ex. M (Dental
Record) (DE#73 at 73). Work logs show that Dr. Sochacki was
working at Cheshire on November 20, 2012 from 7:00 a.m. to
3:00 p.m.; Pl.'s Ex. AA (Work Logs) (DE#77 at 11); but
they do not indicate that he participated in the extraction
procedure with Dr. Dupont. Dr. Sochacki continued to treat
Plaintiff's dental needs in 2013 and 2014. Defs.' Ex.
A at 3, 6, 8, 10, 12. He ordered partial dentures for
Plaintiff in December 2013 and again in April 2014.