United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
MICHAEL W. LAQUE, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL ADKINSON, et al. Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
THAI CANNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Michael Laque, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, sues Defendants Dr. James Sheppard, Nurse
Cindy Weeks and Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly depriving him of adequate
dental treatment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Defendants have moved for summary judgment. ECF Docs. 93,
94. Plaintiff responded in opposition (ECF Doc. 101) and
Defendants filed a reply (ECF Doc. 102). The motion has been
referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and N.D. Fla.
Loc. R. 72.2(C). Considering the parties' submissions,
the record and the relevant law, the undersigned recommends
that the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
Docs. 93, 94) be GRANTED.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[T]he mere existence of
some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). An issue of fact is “material” if it
might affect the outcome of the case under the governing law,
and it is “genuine” if the record taken as a
whole could lead a rational fact finder to find for the
nonmoving party. Id. Summary judgment is not
appropriate “if a reasonable fact finder evaluating the
evidence could draw more than one inference from the facts,
and if that inference introduces a genuine issue of material
fact.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64
F.3d 590, 594 (11th Cir. 1995). Generally, the
Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party (here, Plaintiff) and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of that party. Mann v. Taser
Int'l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1303 (11th
claims relate to events that occurred while he was a pretrial
detainee at the Walton County Jail (“WCJ”) from
December 28, 2016, to July 12, 2017. The facts pertinent to
the resolution of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
are drawn from Plaintiff's verified third amended
complaint (ECF Doc. 84), the evidence submitted by
Defendants (ECF Doc. 94, ECF Doc. 102-1) and the evidence
submitted by Plaintiff (ECF Doc. 101 at 14-19). Nevertheless,
matters stated below as “facts” for purposes of
summary judgment review may not be the actual facts. See
Montoute v. Carr, 114 F.3d 181, 182 (11th
was arrested and booked into the Escambia County Jail
(“ECJ”) in October 2016. ECF Doc. 94-2 at 1. In
December 2016, Plaintiff began experiencing pain around a
molar on the lower left side of his mouth. ECF Doc. 84 at 7.
He complained about the issue to officials at the ECJ on
December 15. Id.
December 28, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to the
ECF Doc. 94-2 at 4. During his initial medical evaluation,
Plaintiff told Dr. James Sheppard he “had a dental
issue, that [his] tooth was starting to give [him]
problems.” ECF Doc. 94-1 at 4. However, Plaintiff's
“tooth wasn't acting up to that degree at that
time, . . . and [Dr. Sheppard] said if [Plaintiff] had any
problems to fill out a sick call.” Id.
December 30, 2016, Plaintiff requested a temporary filling
for his molar, but he failed to appear for sick call the next
morning. ECF Doc. 94-2 at 17. On January 2, 2017, Plaintiff
reported his molar had lost its filling, which he claimed
left nerves exposed and caused constant pain. Id. at
18. He stated the temporary filling did not work and asked
that the tooth be removed. Id. The following day at
sick call, Plaintiff was informed that if his family made
payment arrangements with a dentist, WCJ staff would
transport him to an appointment. Id. An examination
revealed no signs or symptoms of an abscess and Plaintiff was
given ibuprofen and Orajel. ECF Doc. 94-4 at 1.
January 5, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a grievance about his
treatment, the lack of an onsite dentist and his inability to
pay for an outside dentist; he demanded to have his tooth
extracted. ECF Doc. 94-2 at 20. After Nurse Cindy Weeks
denied the grievance, Plaintiff appealed the denial on
January 10. Id. Tammy Godwin denied the appeal on
January 11; Godwin wrote:
Denied. The medical staff have stated that you do not need to
see a dentist at this time. You may request a dental visit
from Escambia county, but the medical staff at Walton have
assessed your dental issue and find no reason for a visit
to a dentist at this time.
also submitted a sick-call request on January 5 for his
“toothache.” Id. at 21. Plaintiff,
however, failed to appear for sick call on January 6.
Id. Thus, later that day he submitted another
sick-call request indicating his toothache made it difficult
to eat and sleep. Id. at 22. Nurse Dawn Cooper
examined Plaintiff on January 7 and found no facial swelling
and no swelling in his gums; she issued him a refill of
Orajel. ECF Doc. 94-3 at 6. Cooper also offered a written
response to Plaintiff's January 7 sick-call request:
If you have family/friend to pay for dental appointment our
facility will transport you. Escambia County no longer has a
Dentist on staff therefore we have been instructed by
Escambia County to follow our Dental Protocol. We only
provide Emergency Dental Care at the Discretion of the Jail
Doctor. I enc[ourage] good oral hygiene and warm salt water
gargles. Report any facial swelling or temp to medical staff.
You can also try the temp filling to pack into the hole.
ECF Doc. 94-2 at 22.
January 10, Plaintiff reported his Orajel had been stolen and
asked for a replacement. Id. at 24. On January 12,
Plaintiff requested a refill of his pain medication.
Id. at 25. Both of these requests were granted by
the WCJ medical staff. ECF Doc. 94-1 at 11; ECF Doc. 94-2 at
24-25; ECF Doc. 94-3 at 6.
submitted a sick-call request on January 20 describing his
issue as “cracked tooth . . . swollen lymphnode . . .
swollen jaw . . . EXTREMELY PAINFUL.” ECF Doc. 94-2 at
28. When he arrived at medical, he indicated he had been
having problems “but [he] bit down on something and
it's excruciating[ly] painful.” ECF Doc. 94-3 at 6.
An examination revealed mild swelling of his left lower jaw,
no gumline swelling, mild enlargement of the left lymph node
and no fever. Id. Plaintiff states his “molar
developed an abscess.” ECF Doc. 84 at 7. Medical staff
at the WCJ “started [Plaintiff] on clindamycin on
[January 21] and 600 mg ibuprofen (2x) daily with salt water
rinses, but [he] still saw no doctor or dentist.”
January 21, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a grievance which
indicated he had a “cracked tooth that is causing
constant pain, problems eating, and headaches.” ECF
Doc. 94-2 at 29. Plaintiff admitted he was being treated with
salt water rinses, ibuprofen and clindamycin but argued that
was “not a solution to the issue . . . only a buffer at
best.” Id. Nurse Weeks responded to the
grievance on January 25, noting she saw Plaintiff at 12:30
a.m. and Escambia County would not “pay for a dental
trip unless [he met] the criteria for care.”
Id. Weeks stated his current treatment “should
help resolve the problem, ” but offered to move him to
the infirmary for further observation if he continued to
experience discomfort. Id. at 29-30.
submitted another sick-call request on January 23 stating his
“tooth issue [was] not getting any better” and
requesting that it be pulled. Id. at 31. On January
24, WCJ staff observed no facial swelling, no drainage and
instructed Plaintiff to complete the antibiotics.
Id.; ECF Doc. 94-4 at 6. Staff also advised
Plaintiff that if he had “someone to pay for a dental
visit [the WCJ could send him] to the dentist per ECJ.”
ECF Doc. 94-2 at 31.
January 25, Plaintiff submitted a request to Escambia County,
stating he had “an abscess tooth with swelling, extreme
pain, drainage, and sometimes fever.” Id. at
32. He asserted “the tooth is cracked into the gum line