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Tanner v. Cuevas

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 21, 2019

THOMAS TANNER, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANKIE CUEVAS, DDS, ET AL., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement

         Pro se Plaintiff, Thomas Tanner (“Tanner”), currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”) brings this civil rights complaint against Dr. Frankie Cuevas and Dental Assistant A. Duffy. He claims that the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, specifically, his need for a new partial denture. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed in part.

         Standard of Review

         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. 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 a 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 still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must 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).

         Allegations

         In August or September 2015, Dr. Cuevas repaired Tanner's partial lower denture. Compl., ECF No. 1, at 9 ¶ 7; Ex. A at 31. On November 24, 2015, Tanner's partial lower denture cracked and went down the toilet. Id.; Ex. A at 32. Dr. Cuevas instructed Tanner to fill out a lost property form. Id. Prison officials did not approve Tanner's request for a new partial lower denture. Id. at 9 ¶ 7; Ex. A at 32.

         In September 2017, Tanner sent an inmate request to the Dental Department claiming that he needed a new partial lower denture. Id. at 9 ¶ 8. On January 28, 2018, Tanner sent a second inmate request to the Dental Department seeking a new partial lower denture. Id. ¶ 9. On January 30, 2018, Albert Beuscher, DMD, examined Tanner because Tanner's upper denture needed to be adjusted. During the examination, Dr. Beuscher adjusted Tanner's upper denture and noted that two teeth, numbers 22 and 27, showed decay and needed to be filled. Id. During the visit, Tanner informed Dr. Beuscher that his lower denture had been cracked since 2015, he had been getting painful sores and he could not eat properly. Id. at 10 ¶ 9.

         On March 20, 2018, Dr. Cuevas examined Tanner and filled the cavities identified by Dr. Beuscher. Id. ¶ 10; Ex. C at 36. When Tanner returned to his cell, he put his lower denture in, but it did not fit properly due to the new fillings in teeth numbers 22 and 27. Id. That afternoon, Dr. Cuevas adjusted the fillings so that the lower partial denture would fit properly. Id. At that time, Dr. Cuevas allegedly stated that he would submit a request to have Tanner's cracked lower denture repaired. Id.

         On September 24, 2018, Tanner submitted an inmate request to the Dental Department indicating that he needed to be seen by the dentist because his partial lower denture had broken. Id. ¶ 11. On May 17, 2019, Tanner submitted an inmate request to the Dental Department indicating that he needed a new partial lower denture and he considered it to be an urgent matter. Compl. at 10 ¶ 12.

         On June 25, 2019, Tanner filed a grievance seeking to be seen by the dentist because he needed a new partial lower denture. Id. ¶ 13; Ex. 4 at 19. On July 31, 2019, Dr. Cuevas examined Tanner and noted that he was not wearing his lower partial denture. Id. at 11 ¶ 18; Ex. 4 at 19. Id. Tanner informed Dr. Cuevas that the partial lower denture had broken and that he had sent the pieces of the denture to his family. Id. Tanner refused to request a family member to mail the pieces of his partial lower denture to Dr. Cuevas to enable him to attempt to repair the denture. Id. at 11-12 ¶ 18. Tanner believed that he was entitled to a new partial denture. Id. at 12 ¶ 18.

         On September 3, 2019, Dr. Cuevas informed Tanner that he had been approved to receive a new partial lower denture and that he would be seen in the Dental Department when it was his turn. Id. at 12 ΒΆ 22; Ex. 11 at 30. As of the filing of the ...


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