United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lee Lucas ("Lucas") brings this action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that while incarcerated at David
Wade Correctional Center ("DWCC"), he was deprived
of dental care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. [Record
Document 1]. Before the Court is the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation on three pending motions for
summary judgment. [Record Document 47]. Lucas has filed one
motion, Defendant Daniel Moore ('Moore") has filed a
second motion, and Defendants Jerry Goodwin
("Goodwin"), James LeBlanc ("LeBlanc"),
Paula Millwee ("Millwee"), Robert Rachal
("Rachal"), and Rahman Singh ("Singh")
(collectively, "State Defendants") have filed a
third motion. [Record Documents 26, 38, and 40]. Defendants
have filed oppositions to Lucas's motion. [Record
reasons discussed below, the Report and Recommendation
[Record Document 47] is ADOPTED IN PART and
REJECTED IN PART. The Court
ADOPTS the report's findings that Lucas
properly exhausted his administrative remedies against Moore,
that neither Moore nor LeBlanc violated Lucas's Eighth
Amendment rights, that Lucas's motion for summary
judgment should be denied, and that Lucas's injunctive
relief claims against Millwee, Rachal, and Goodwin are moot.
The Court REJECTS the report's findings
that Millwee, Rachal, Goodwin, and Singh did not violate
Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment rights, that they are entitled to
qualified immunity, and that Lucas's claim against Singh
for injunctive relief is moot.
motion for summary judgment [Record Document 26] is
DENIED. Moore's motion for summary
judgment [Record Document 38] is GRANTED.
The State Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Record
Document 40] is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART. Summary judgment is
GRANTED as to LeBlanc on all claims and as
to Millwee, Rachal, Goodwin, and Singh in their official
capacities on the issue of monetary damages. Summary judgment
is DENIED in all other respects. Lucas's
claim for injunctive relief against Millwee, Rachal, and
Goodwin is DENIED AS MOOT.
is currently incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary
("LSP"). [Record Document 46-1 at 3]. Moore is a
dentist at DWCC who regularly treated Lucas while he was
incarcerated there. [Record Document 1-2 at 2]. Millwee is a
registered nurse at DWCC. [Record Documents 1-2 at 2 and 46-1
at 1]. Rachal is the assistant warden at DWCC overseeing
medical and dental care. [Record Document 1-2 at 2]. Goodwin
is the warden at DWCC. [Id.]. Singh was the medical
director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and
Corrections ("DOC"), the state entity that operates
DWCC. [Id. at 3]. Finally, LeBlanc is the DOC
Plaintiff entered DWCC, he had a long span anterior bridge in
the upper left side of his mouth; tooth #12 is an abutment
for that bridge. [Record Document 46-1 at 9, 21]. As
described more fully in the Report and Recommendation, Moore
saw Lucas multiple times in 2012 and 2013. [Record Document
47 at 1-3]. After initially diagnosing Lucas's dental
pain as sinusitis, Moore upgraded the diagnosis in June 2013
to a fistula at tooth #11 or #12 and prescribed an
antibiotic. [Id. at 2-3]. Lucas made no further sick
calls requesting dental care until 2015. [Record Document
46-1 at 2]. On March 24, 2015, Lucas reported "extreme
pain" and was seen by a DWCC nurse, who referred him for
an appointment with Moore. [Record Documents 1-2 at 4 and
46-1 at 2, 15]. Moore examined Lucas on April 30, 2015,
prescribed ibuprofin, dramamine, and amoxicillin, and
referred him to the Oral Surgery Clinic at University
Health-Shreveport ("UH-S"). [Record Documents 1-2
at 4 and 46-1 at 2-3, 16-19].
diagnosis and specific directions to UH-S are somewhat
unclear from the record. He appears to have concluded that at
least one tooth (#11 or #12) was non-vital. [Record Document
46-1 at 19]. He noted that Lucas "needs t[ooth] #11 root
canal therapy, which is a procedure that DWCC does not have
the resources to provide" and "recommend[ed]"
that Lucas be taken to a clinic offering the procedure.
[Id. at 17]. However, beside the recommendation that
Lucas be taken to an outside clinic, Moore wrote "if
needed." [Id.]. On the referral form itself, he
wrote that Lucas "need[s] retrofill, " but also,
"Please evaluate . . . for apico-ectomy, non vital
maxillary teeth on Bridge UL Maxilla." [Id. at
19]. In later notes, Moore indicated that he "had
requested" that UH-S "perform [the] retro-fill
procedure, " but also that Lucas had been "referred
to see if periapical retro fill procedure can be done."
[Id. at 20, 22]. Thus, it is unclear from the record
whether the external referral was for a particular therapy
that DWCC could not perform on-site but that Moore believed
was indicated or whether the referral was for an evaluation
of whether a root canal, periapical retrofill, or an
apicoectomy were appropriate treatments for Lucas.
26, 2015, Lucas was seen at UH-S. [Record Documents 1-2 at 4
and 46-1 at 3]. Although UH-S offered extraction of the
non-vital tooth, Lucas refused this treatment, expressing to
the clinic dentist that he desired a root canal. [Record
Document 46-1 at 29]. On the form used by DWCC to communicate
between outside medical providers and prison staff, the UH-S
dentist indicated that the recommended treatment was
"dentist for RCT #12." [Id. at 25]. In
September 2015, Moore saw Lucas again and again referred him
to UH-S, noting that the purpose of the proposed periapical
retrofill was "to save the long span bridge which [the
affected teeth] are a part of." [Id. at 3, 20].
In his orders, Moore clearly indicated that Lucas was not
being sent for extraction and that Moore's intention was
for Lucas to be evaluated for his suitability as a candidate
for periapical retrofill. [Id. at 20]. This second
referral was never executed because UH-S alerted DWCC by
letter that it lacked the "capabilities to perform root
canal therapy or any retrofill procedures."
[Id. at 21]. Rather than indicating that UH-S found
Lucas an unsuitable candidate for these treatments, the
letter only states that UH-S cannot perform them.
[Id.]. On October 30, 2015, Moore again saw Lucas,
noted that he had "refused extraction at UH-S, "
and prescribed an antibiotic and mouth rinse to treat the
fistula. [Id. at 22]. Five weeks later, Lucas was
seen by a different DWCC dentist, who also noted that Lucas
"refused ext. #12 at UH-S." [Id. at 23].
It is unclear from the record whether Moore or this other
dentist offered Lucas extraction or whether Lucas only
refused extraction when offered by UH-S. Throughout this
time, Lucas was in "constant and continuous pain."
[Record Document 1-2 at 5].
attempt to investigate his situation, Lucas wrote several
letters to Moore. [Record Document 1-2 at 4 and 26-3 at
21-23]. Moore replied to one, indicating that he relied on
UH-S's diagnosis that Lucas had a fistula between tooth
#11 and tooth #12. [Record Document 26-3 at 23]. Some
evidence indicates that Moore may have told Lucas that Moore
would suggest to Millwee that Lucas be transferred to a
different DOC facility so that his dental needs could be met.
[Id. at 22]. It is unclear whether Moore made this
suggestion to Millwee, but Lucas was transferred to LSP in
April 2016; the reason for the transfer does not appear in
the record. [Record Document 46-1 at 3].
filed a complaint seeking compensatory and punitive damages
against Defendants in their individual and official
capacities and an injunction requiring his immediate transfer
to LSP and the provision of dental care recommended by an
independent dentist. [Record Document 1-2 at 8-9]. Lucas
subsequently moved for a preliminary injunction on the same
grounds, [Record Document 3]; this motion was denied as moot
as a result of Lucas's transfer, [Record Document 8]. Upon
initial review, the Magistrate Judge recommended dismissal of
Lucas's complaint as frivolous. [Record Document 7]. The
Court declined to adopt this recommendation. [Record Document
8]. Moore then moved for dismissal for failure to follow the
procedures mandated by the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act,
[Record Document 15]; the Court denied the motion, accepting
the Magistrate Judge's finding that Lucas alleged
Moore's deliberate indifference in violation of the
Eighth Amendment, not his medical negligence, [Record
Documents 21 and 25].
The Instant Motions
motion, Lucas argues that he is entitled to summary judgment
because the "defendants' failure to provide prompt,
reasonable, and adequate dental care to his serious dental
needs, constituted deliberate indifference" and because
the State Defendants failed to correct the alleged denial of
adequate dental treatment through the Administrative Remedy
Procedures ("ARP") process. [Record Document 26-1
at 2-4]. Moore argues that Lucas failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies and that the dental care Moore
provided was not inadequate and did not evince deliberate
indifference. [Record Document 38 at 2-3]. The State
Defendants assert that they are entided to qualified
immunity. [Record Document 40 at 2]. Millwee argues that she
was not deliberately indifferent and therefore committed no
constitutional violation. [Record Document 40-2 at 8].
Although framed in terms of qualified immunity, Goodwin,
Rachal, Singh, and LeBlanc argue that Lucas's allegations
do not establish supervisory liability under § 1983.
[Id. at 10-11].
Law and Analysis
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to "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." Summary judgment is
appropriate when the pleadings, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, depositions, and affidavits on file indicate that
there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
When the burden at trial will rest on the non-moving party,
the moving party need not produce evidence to negate the
elements of the non-moving party's case; rather, it need
only point out the absence of supporting evidence. See
Id. at 322-23. However, "if the movant bears the
burden of proof on an issue, ... he must establish beyond
peradventure all of the essential elements of the
claim or defense to warrant judgment in his favor."
Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1194 (5th Or.
movant satisfies its initial burden of showing that there is
no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must
demonstrate that there is, in fact, a genuine issue for trial
by going "beyond the pleadings" and
"designating] specific facts" for support.
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Or. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325).
"This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts, " by conclusory or
unsubstantiated allegations, or by a mere "scintilla of
evidence." Id. (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). However, "[t]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 447 U.S. 242, 255 (1985) (ci\xng
Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59
(1970)). While not weighing the evidence or evaluating the
credibility of witnesses, courts should grant summary
judgment where the critical evidence in support of the
nonmovant is so "weak or tenuous" that it could not
support a judgment in the nonmovant's favor.
Armstrong v. City of Dall., 997 F.2d 62, 67 (5th Or.