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Stewart v. Cabrera

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

April 4, 2017

WAYNE STEWART, Plaintiff,
v.
TOMAS CABRERA, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on review of plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Upon review, the Court finds that some of the defendants must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for denial of medical care. Before he was incarcerated, plaintiff was shot in the face by a deputy sheriff for Jasper County. The wound primarily affected his jaw, and he underwent facial reconstructive surgery. The surgeon mounted an “ephemeral steel plate” in his left mandible. Subsequently, another surgeon told plaintiff he would need a bone graft to replace the plate because of a one-inch gap in the mandible, which was caused by missing bone from the gunshot wound.

         Plaintiff was convicted in 2011, and he was subsequently incarcerated at the Crossroads Correctional Center. While there, he filed numerous requests for medical care because the nonunion of the steel plate with his mandible was causing severe pain. The medical staff there refused to treat him. And his caseworker told him that the Missouri Department of Corrections and Corizon, Inc. (“Corizon”), were not required to treat any injuries he suffered pre-incarceration.

         Plaintiff was transferred to the Northeastern Correctional Center in March 13, 2013. Upon his arrival, he requested surgery for the non-union and his pain. Defendant Dr. Cabrera refused to provide him with any treatment. As a result, his left mandible re-fractured in September 2014.

         Dr. Cabrera then ordered an X-ray of his left mandible. He did not, however, prescribe pain medication. The X-ray showed that the plate holding his mandible together had become disconnected. It was reiterated to plaintiff that Corizon was not responsible for treating pre-incarceration injuries and that the needed surgery was too expensive.

         Plaintiff saw a specialist in February 2015, who said plaintiff needed an emergency surgery to place a bone graft in his jaw. No surgery was performed. Plaintiff was sent to see Defendant Ernest Jackson, a dentist for defendant Jackson Institutional Dental Services, about a month later. Jackson ordered more X-rays, regardless of the fact that more than five X-rays had already been taken, including a “panorex full 3-D x-ray procedure in January 2015 . . .” Jackson had plaintiff's previous X-rays before the appointment.

         In August 2015, Corizon approved the recommended surgery, during which, a skin graft was placed inside his mouth. After the surgery, plaintiff suffered severe nerve damage, loss of bone and muscle, and infections in his jaw.

         Plaintiff informed Dr. Cabrera and Jackson that the skin graft was not healing, and as a result, he was suffering severe pain and could not eat or sleep. Cabrera gave him an antibiotic that did not cure the infection.

         Plaintiff wrote letters to Defendants Tammy Anderson, William Jones, and ...


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