United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
WESLEY FORD, Reg. #17776-026 PLAINTIFF
UNITED STATES DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ford is an inmate at the federal prison facility in Forrest
City, Arkansas. He commenced this action against the United
States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2671, et. seq. He alleges that the prison
negligently failed to provide adequate dental care, to
provide hearing aids, to treat his back pain, to control his
eczema, and to treat his allergies. Document #2. The United
States has moved for summary judgment on all claims. For the
following reasons, the government's motion is granted in
part and denied in part.
should grant summary judgment if the evidence demonstrates
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party
meets that burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with
specific facts that establish a genuine dispute of material
fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester,
643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists only if the evidence is
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must give
that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can
be drawn from the record. Pedersen v. Bio-Med.
Applications of Minn., 775 F.3d 1049, 1053 (8th Cir.
2015). If the nonmoving party fails to present evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim on
which that party bears the burden of proof, then the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
medical treatment history is extensive and varied, but this
case primarily concerns treatment he received for dental,
back, and hearing issues while at a federal prison in Forrest
City, Arkansas. He has been an inmate at Forrest City since
February of 2014. Document #2 at ¶ 6. Before arriving at
Forrest City, he was housed in a federal transfer center in
Oklahoma City. Id. While there, he was seen by a
registered dental hygienist in January 2014. Document #54-2
at 4. Ford had filled out a health intake assessment, noting
that he had pain in his teeth and mouth and suffered from
eczema. Id. at 15. He told the hygienist that his
teeth were throbbing and assessed the pain as a
“7” on the pain scale. Id. at 4. The
hygienist determined that the teeth numbered 17-19 had
“gross decay to [the] gumline.” Id. She
gave him oral hygiene instructions and noted that she would
consult a dentist about antibiotic and pain therapy.
Id. at 5. The same day a dentist prescribed a
Penicillin and Ibuprofen ten-day regimen because Ford had
“caries extending into pulp.” Id. at 6.
A dentist saw Ford later in January 2014, and extracted teeth
17-19. Id. at 12. The dentist prescribed Ford an
oral rinse as well as a nutritional supplement. Id.
transfer, Ford was evaluated at Forrest City. He was seen by
a registered nurse on February 3, 2014. Id. at 20.
The nurse recorded that Ford had no pain or swelling in his
teeth or mouth, was under no current dental treatment, but
complained of needing bottom teeth pulled. Id. She
also recorded “eczema” under the
“Observations” section. Id. at 21. The
nurse listed “Dental Complaint” and
“Dentures” among potential items for follow-up.
Id. At the time, Ford had a top plate of dentures.
Id. Two days later, Ford was seen by a certified
physicians assistant. Id. at 26.
noted that Ford had no pain or swelling in his teeth or mouth
and was under no current dental treatment. Id. at
28. Ford made an unspecified dental complaint and she
referred him to dental sick call the next morning.
Id. Despite Ford missing many teeth and having a top
plate of dentures, the physicians assistant made the
following notations: Gums Normal: Yes; Teeth Poor Dentition:
No; Teeth Count: Mostly Present; Dentures: No. Id.
at 33. She listed “Dental Complaint” and
“Dentures” among potential items for follow-up.
Id. at 36. In the “Observations”
section, she wrote that Ford had a history of eczema.
Id. at 29. She referred Ford to the commissary for
over-the-counter treatments for his eczema and instructed him
that he could place a sick call if he did not experience
relief. Id. at 37.
February 18, 2014, a doctor made an administrative note on
Ford's medical file asking why he had been prescribed a
nutritional supplement while at the transfer facility and
stating that he “need[ed] an evaluation for
this.” Id. at 46. Ford saw a dental hygienist
on February 25, 2014. Id. at 49. The hygienist
listed “Edentulism, partial, unspecified” and
“Dental caries extending into pulp” as current
health problems, but she listed
“Dermatitis/eczema” as a resolved health problem.
Id. She noted that Ford had 21 missing teeth and 11
decayed teeth. Id. at 53.
April 24, 2014, Ford filled out two inmate request forms-one
complaining of his hearing loss, which the prison staff
interpreted as Ford requesting a hearing exam, and the other
complaining of dental pain and requesting that all of his
teeth be removed so that he can get dentures. Id. at
73-74. Ford expressed concern that his dental pain was caused
by an infection. Id. at 74. The prison staff added
Ford to the “treatment list” for his dental
issues. Id. Ford's medical records reflect that
on May 7, 2014, a nurse scheduled a hearing test for Ford on
May 9, 2014. Id. at 76. This hearing test was
rescheduled for March 2, 2015, for unknown reasons. Document
#54 at ¶ 18. On February 13, 2015, Ford again filled out
an inmate request form. Document #54-2 at 90. In it he
complained of eczema, lower back pain due to nerve damage,
and hearing issues. Id. He expressed dismay that he
had not yet received treatment for these issues. Id.
The prison staff responded that he was on the call-out to see
a nurse for his eczema and that a nurse will write a consult
for an audiology exam and appointment with an ear, nose, and
throat specialist. Id. After Ford had an audiometric
examination indicating profound hearing loss, a nurse
practitioner ordered a consultation with an otolaryngologist.
Id. at 91. The nurse practitioner described the
consultation as medically necessary but non-emergent.
Id. The request was approved on March 3, 2015, by
Dr. Martin Tindel, the Institution Clinical Director at
Forrest City. Id. at 99.
March 10, 2015, a nurse practitioner met with Ford regarding
his three complaints in the February 2015 inmate request
form. The nurse practitioner noted that Ford reported that
his back pain was due to nerve damage and underdeveloped
nerves. Id. at 103. Ford assessed his back pain as a
“5.” Id. The nurse practitioner
prescribed Tylenol for his lower back pain. Id. at
106. On April 10, 2015, a doctor also prescribed Ford an
anti-inflammatory medication. Id. at 108. Ford was
seen by a doctor on April 14, 2015, for his lower back pain,
complaining that his condition was unimproved. Id.
at 111. Ford presented to the chronic care clinic on June 9,
2015, with complaints of back pain. Id. at 113. A
doctor ordered blood tests and an x-ray of his lumbar spine,
and scheduled a follow-up for November 27, 2015, to go over
the blood work and x-ray. Id. at 113-17. At the same
time Ford presented to the chronic care clinic for back pain,
his medical file listed “Dental caries extending into
pulp” and “Edentulism, partial,
unspecified” as “current” health problems.
Id. at 123.
29, 2015, Ford was seen by a dental hygienist and a dentist.
The dental hygienist noted that Ford had bleeding gums,
severely decayed teeth, and loose teeth. Id. at 145,
147. The dentist created a care plan that called for the rest
of Ford's teeth to be extracted and full dentures.
Id. at 148, 152. The plan listed tooths 21-29 and
31-32 for extraction. Id. at 148. Ford's records
reflect that he did not report any pain to the hygienist or
dentist. Id. at 147.
August, 17, 2015, a radiologist read Ford's x-ray of his
lumbar spine and simply concluded that it was negative.
Id. at 153. On November 24, 2015, Ford visited an
otolaryngologist in Memphis, Tennessee. Id. at 155.
The otolaryngologist determined that a follow-up visit was
needed so that Ford could undergo additional tests.
Id. at 157. The tests were scheduled for February
25, 2016. Id. at 162. Ford had the tests on February
2, 2016, and it was determined that he needed hearing aids.
Id. at 167.
February 9, 2016, Ford went to the prison's dental
services, complaining of a broken tooth that was causing his
face to swell. Id. at 169. The dentist determined
that the pain was caused by an infected retained residual
root, which was causing facial and vestibular swelling.
Id. The tooth was not restorable and was extracted
on February 17, 2016. Id. at 172.
2, 2016, went to the chronic care clinic, complaining of back
pain and that he still did not have hearing aids.
Id. at 173. He rated his pain as an 8/10 and told
the doctor that the medication he was taking for the pain was
no longer effective. Id. The doctor prescribed a
different medication and also requested a follow-up
appointment for Ford with the otolaryngologist. Id.
at 177. On July 11, 2016, Ford complained of back pain and
burning skin, but his medical file notes that he refused
treatment. Id. at 186. On July, 26, 2016, a nurse
practitioner requested an audiology appointment for Ford to
get fitted for hearing aids. Id. at 187.
September 21, 2016, Ford had a routine dental exam.
Id. at 190. The dentist again created a care plan
that called for the rest of Ford's teeth to be extracted
and full dentures. Id. at 191. This time, however,
the plan listed tooths 1-16 and 20 for extraction.
Id. Ford did not want his teeth extracted at that
time and deferred treatment. Id. Ford says that he
did not want his teeth extracted until the dentures were
ready because it would be too difficult and painful to chew
his food. Document #63 at 3-4. Ford's medical records do
not reflect that he has had his remaining teeth extracted or
that he has been fit for dentures. As of October 27, 2016,
his medical records still list “Dental caries extending