United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON JUDGE
Whitfield filed a complaint alleging that he was not
receiving constitutionally adequate dental care. I granted
him leave to proceed against Dr. Pearcy for compensatory and
punitive damages for failing to provide Whitfield with
adequate dental care and against the Warden of the Westville
Correctional Center for injunctive relief to provide
Whitfield with adequate dental care, as required by the
Eighth Amendment. ECF 1; ECF 18. I also ordered the Warden to
file a declaration indicating how Lawrence Whitfield's
dental care needs are being met in a manner that comports
with the Eighth Amendment. ECF 18. Thereafter, Whitfield
filed a letter and two motions seeking a preliminary
injunction. ECF 24; ECF 32; ECF 39. The Warden has responded
to each of these requests. ECF 40.
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic
remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant,
by a clear showing, carries the burden of
persuasion.” Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S.
968, 972 (1997) (emphasis in original). To obtain a
preliminary injunction, the moving party must show: (1) he
will suffer irreparable harm before the final resolution of
his claims; (2) available remedies at law are inadequate; and
(3) he has a likelihood of success on the merits. See
BBL, Inc. v. City of Angola, 809 F.3d 317, 323-24 (7th
Cir. 2015). The court then “weighs the competing harms
to the parties if an injunction is granted or denied and also
considers the public interest.” Korte v.
Sebelius, 735 F.3d 654, 665 (7th Cir. 2013). An
injunction ordering the defendant to take an affirmative act
rather than merely refrain from specific conduct is
“cautiously viewed and sparingly issued.”
Graham v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 130 F.3d 293, 295 (7th
Cir. 1997) (quotation marks and citation omitted). It is true
that every inmate is entitled to receive constitutionally
adequate medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 104-05 (1976). However, before an inmate can obtain
injunctive relief, he must make a clear showing that the
medical care he is receiving violates the Eighth Amendment
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. See Westefer
v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2012); Mazurek
v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997).
alleges that he has been denied adequate dental treatment
since September of 2018, when he developed pain in his mouth
and requested dental care. Although he was notified that he
was scheduled to see a dentist, Dr. Pearcy, weeks passed
without treatment and his condition worsened. He filled out
additional requests for dental care and filed grievances. He
was told repeatedly that he was on the list to be seen. Dr.
Pearcy finally saw Whitfield on February 19, 2019.
Whitfield's medical records show that Dr. Pearcy repaired
tooth number three with resin at this visit. ECF 40-2 at 2.
According to Whitfield, Dr. Pearcy told him that there was a
crack in his filling, and he placed a filling on top of the
old one. ECF 1-1 at 32. It fell out the same day.
Id. He filed a health-care request on March 8, 2019,
because he was still in pain. Id. In response, a
health care staff member wrote, “[w]e just saw you on
2-19-19 but, I have added your name to the WCU list
to Whitfield's dental records, Dr. Pearcy saw Whitfield
again on May 21, 2019. ECF 40-2 at 2. However, in May, Dr.
Pearcy did not address tooth number three (the tooth that was
restored in February). Rather, Dr. Pearcy performed an
amalgam restoration of tooth number thirteen. And, on
September 24, 2019, Dr. Pearcy saw Whitfield again, this time
to repair tooth number nineteen with resin. Id. Two
months later, Whitfield was seen by a nurse for tooth pain.
ECF 40-3. At that visit, Whitfield indicated that his
“tooth was hurting and had a bump” and when he
pushed on it, “pus and blood came out.”
Id. He was provided with both Tylenol and
amoxicillin. Id. When he complained about a broken
tooth or filling, Dr. Percy saw Whitfield again on December
3, 2019. ECF 40-2 at 2. At this visit, Dr. Pearcy repaired
tooth number nineteen with an amalgam filling. Id.
Whitfield believes that a tooth should have been pulled or,
alternatively, a root canal should have been performed at
this visit. However, it is unclear if Whitfield believes that
tooth number three needed additional attention or if it is
tooth number nineteen (the tooth that was filled on December
3, 2019) that he believes should have been addressed
differently. There is no indication in the record that
Whitfield has had ongoing problem with tooth number nineteen
after the December 3, 2019, filling. But it is unclear
whether the problem with tooth number three dating back to
February of 2019 was ever addressed, and if it was not
addressed, why it was not addressed.
Whitfield is seeking an appointment with an outside dentist
and an order directing that Dr. Pearcy be provided with the
equipment necessary to perform his duties adequately,
including an x-ray machine. “[T]he Constitution is not
a medical code that mandates specific medical
treatment.” Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586,
592 (7th Cir. 1996). “Whether and how pain associated
with medical treatment should be mitigated is for doctors to
decide free from judicial interference, except in the most
extreme situations.” Id. Inmates are
“not entitled to demand specific care [nor] entitled to
the best care possible.” Forbes v. Edgar, 112
F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997).
Whitfield insists that Dr. Pearcy provided him with
inadequate dental care and ignored his needs, the medical
records described above show that Whitfield was seen and
treated by Dr. Pearcy multiple times during the period in
question. He filled cavities in several different teeth. When
the filling in tooth number nineteen required an additional
repair - Dr. Pearcy made that repair. While Whitfield may have
preferred that the tooth be pulled or that a root canal be
performed, the Constitution does not require that Whitfield
receive the treatment of his choice or even proper treatment
- only treatment that reflects professional judgment. See
Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008)
(“[M]edical professionals are not required to provide
proper medical treatment to prisoners, but rather they must
provide medical treatment that reflects professional
judgment, practice, or standards.”) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). The record suggests that he
received treatment for tooth number nineteen reflecting
professional judgment, even if medical professionals could
disagree about the best treatment option. There is, however,
one matter that is concerning. When tooth number three was
filled, Whitfield indicated that the filling fell out the
same day, and the medical records do not establish that tooth
number three was ever addressed by Dr. Pearcy again.
abundance of caution, the court will take Whitfield's
motions for preliminary injunctive relief under advisement
and provide the Warden with an opportunity to supplement his
response by explaining whether tooth number three has been
examined since it was filled in February, what the findings
were, and what additional treatment, if any, was performed.
He should provide a sworn statement from Dr. Pearcy or
another examining dentist with his supplemental response.
Lawrence E. Whitfield's requests for preliminary
injunctive relief (ECF 24; ECF 32; ECF 39) are TAKEN UNDER
ADVISEMENT, and Warden Galipeau is ORDERED to supplement his
response by December 27, 2019.
 Dr. Percy placed a filling in tooth
number 4 in January of 2018, and restored tooth number 4 with
amalgam in June of 2018. ECF 40-2 at 1. Each of those
procedures, however, occurred ...