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Smullin v. Duncan

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

June 1, 2016

RONALD DEWAYNE SMULLIN PLAINTIFF
v.
BRETT DUNCAN, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

         I. Background:

         Ronald Dewayne Smullin, an Arkansas Department of Correction inmate formerly housed at the Craighead County Detention Center (“Detention Center”), filed this lawsuit pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his complaint, Mr. Smullin claims Defendants Duncan, Bentley, and Jackson acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs after an inmate attacked him at the Detention Center in April of 2015.

         Mr. Smullin alleges that several hours after the inmate attack, Defendant Jackson examined him and told him that he needed stitches. In spite of this recommendation, Mr. Smullin alleges, he never received stitches. Mr. Smullin further alleges that on April 16, 2015, Defendant Bentley examined him but failed to recognize that his jaw was broken.

         A week later, Mr. Smullin was examined by a dentist who noted that Mr. Smullin was suffering from an oral infection and that four of his permanent teeth could not be saved. Mr. Smullin also alleges that he was not permitted to bring state-court criminal charges against his assailant because Defendants did not timely respond to his grievances.

         Mr. Smullin later moved to amend his complaint to include deliberate-indifference claims against Andy Allison, Officer Peaster, Matt Hall, Marty Boyd, and Gary Etter, as well as a failure-to-protect claim against Andy Allison and Officer Peaster. The Court granted the motion to amend. (#12, #15, #78, #89)

         Defendants have now moved for summary judgment. (#110, #114) Mr. Smullin has responded to the motions (#118, #119, #120, #124), and Defendants have replied.[1](#121, #129)

         II. Discussion:

         A. Standard

         Summary judgment is proper when the facts important to the outcome of a lawsuit are not in dispute, and the moving party or parties are entitled to judgment without the need for a trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         B. Underlying Facts

         On April 14, 2015, at about 12:45 p.m., Mr. Smullin approached Defendant Allison with a towel pressed against his lip. He explained that he had fallen in the shower and needed to be moved.[2] (#112-2 at p.1) At that time, Defendant Allison instructed Detention Center officials to review the security camera footage to determine how Mr. Smullin was injured. (Id.) After viewing the video footage, Detention Center officials determined that another detainee, S. Whitney, had struck Mr. Smullin in the face, injuring Mr. Smullin. (Id.) Inmate Whitney was then relocated and “locked down.” (Id.)

         According to Mr. Smullin’s medical records, he was transported to the Detention Center medical center at approximately 2:30 p.m., approximately an hour and a half after the assault. (Id. at p.2) Defendant Jackson examined Mr. Smullin and noted that he had an “oral injury, ” complained of oral pain, and had a “laceration to top [and] bottom lip.” (Id.)

         Defendant Jackson contacted Defendant Arthur Bentley, M.D. Upon hearing Defendant Jackson’s assessment, Dr. Bentley did not believe that Mr. Smullin needed emergency treatment. (#115-2 at pp.1-2) Defendant Jackson ordered Mr. Smullin an ice pack, gave him ibuprofen, and scheduled an appointment for Mr. Smullin to be examined by Defendant Bentley on April 16, 2015. (Id.) Defendant Jackson also instructed Mr. Smullin not to wiggle his loose teeth.

         On April 16, 2015, Defendant Bentley examined Mr. Smullin. He noted that, since the incident, Mr. Smullin had lost one tooth and three others were loose.[3] (Id. at p.3) At that time, Defendant Bentley did not note any sign of infection. (Id.) Defendant Bentley referred Mr. Smullin to a dentist and recommended that Mr. Smullin continue taking ibuprofen. (Id.)

         On April 21, 2015, Hunter Smith, D.D.S., examined Mr. Smullin. (Id. at p.4; #112-4 at p.2) Dr. Smith noted that Mr. Smullin suffered from a “fractured maxilla above teeth #8, 9, and 10.” (Id.) Because Mr. Smullin was suffering from the fracture and an infection, however, Dr. Smith determined that the loose teeth should not be removed at that time. (#112-4 at p.2) Dr. Smith recommended that Mr. Smullin return to his office in a week for further treatment. (Id.) During the visit, Dr. Smith prescribed Amoxicillin for Mr. Smullin’s oral infection, as well as narcotic pain medication. (Id.) Although Mr. Smullin received all doses of the Amoxicillin, Defendant Bentley determined that narcotic medication was not clinically appropriate and instead prescribed ibuprofen as an alternate pain remedy. (#115-5 at p.22)

         On April 27, 2015, Detention Center officials transported Mr. Smullin to Dr. Smith’s office for treatment. (#115-7 at p.2) Dr. Smith examined Mr. Smullin and determined that tooth number eight needed to be extracted. (#112-4 at p.2) Dr. Smith extracted the coronal portion of tooth number eight and “temporized 9 and 10 to #11 with A2 flowable.” (Id.; #118 at p.21)

         On May 6 and again on May 15, 2015, Detention Center officials transported Mr. Smullin to Dr. Smith’s office for further treatment. (#115-7 at pp.3-4) During both appointments, Dr. Smith noted that Mr. Smullin was healing and that the fracture was improving. (#112-4 at p.2, )

         Again on June 3, 2015, Detention Center officials transported Mr. Smullin to Dr. Smith’s office for treatment. (#115-7 at p.5) At that time, Dr. Smith extracted teeth nine and ten. (#112-4 at p.3)

         On June 17, 2015, Detention Center officials transported Mr. Smullin to Dr. Smith’s office for his final appointment. (#115-7 at p.6) Dr. Smith extracted teeth seven and eight. (#112-4 at p.3) At that time, Dr. Smith also provided Mr. Smullin a treatment plan for the replacing of the four removed permanent teeth. (#118 at pp.24-25) The next month, July of 2015, Mr. Smullin was transferred to the Arkansas Department of Correction. (#112-1 at p.1)

         B. Defendants Bentley and Jackson - Deliberate Indifference

         “Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” McRaven v. Sanders, 577 F.3d 974, 979 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)).[4] This indifference extends to ‚Äúprison guards in intentionally denying or ...


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