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Anderson v. Witherspoon

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

June 28, 2016

WILLIAM LEE ANDERSON, II, Plaintiff,
v.
PHILIP H. WITHERSPOON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. MICHAEL F. URBANSKI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         William Lee Anderson, II, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, commenced this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff complains about the dental treatment provided by Dr. Philip H. Witherspoon, the former dentist at the Augusta Correctional Center ("ACC").[1] Dr. Witherspoon filed a motion for summary judgment, to which Plaintiff responded and filed his own motion for summary judgment. After reviewing the record, the court denies the parties' motions for summary judgment without prejudice, orders Dr. Witherspoon to file a new motion for summary judgment, and refers the matter for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         I.

         Dr. Witherspoon first saw Plaintiff at ACC on May 22, 2014, because Plaintiff experienced pain in his mouth and thought a filling fell out of tooth number 4, 5, or 6. Dr. Witherspoon examined Plaintiff and determined that tooth number 4 was missing, that tooth number 5 had an intact filling, and that tooth number 6 was worn but did not show evidence of having ever been filled. In contrast to Plaintiffs complaint, Dr. Witherspoon did not find a hole where a filling had fallen out.

         In an informal complaint dated May 26, 2014, Plaintiff alleged that a medical doctor had told Plaintiff that he could see a nerve ending in a hole in one of Plaintiff s teeth. Dr. Witherspoon responded on May 28, 2014, stating, "There is no record of a physician noting that you have a hole in a tooth."

         On July 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a request for a dental appointment, stating, "[H]ave a gum infection or something it's painful. Please help." Dr. Witherspoon responded on July 7, 2014, saying, "I will pass your req[uest] to [staff] to schedule you for evaluation/treatment. Do you need pain medication?" Plaintiff does not allege that he requested pain medication.

         Dr. Witherspoon examined Plaintiff again on July 10, 2014, for his complaint about a gum infection around tooth numbers 5 and 6. Dr. Witherspoon did not observe any clinical pathology and noted his impression of sinusitis.

         At the appointment on August 18, 2014, Plaintiff complained that tooth number 11 was broken. Dr. Witherspoon examined Plaintiff and found the tooth was intact.

         On December 27, 2014, Plaintiff requested a dental appointment to "have a few bad teeth that needs fixed [sic] ASAP painful[]." Dr. Witherspoon responded on December 29, 2014, noting that Plaintiff would be scheduled for an evaluation.

         Before Dr. Witherspoon would see Plaintiff at their next appointment, Plaintiff and his cellmate extracted Plaintiffs lower right wisdom tooth on January 9, 2015, because Plaintiff thought it was infected. "We used 2 pair of unsanitary fingernail clippers[, ] several large spoons from chowhall[, ] several big pens[, ] and many long strands of nylon[.] Once out of [the] jaw bone, the roots were holding it in where cellmate wrapped nylon around the roots and yanked it out. It was a most painful torture Fv[e] ever had to experience with a bloody mess looking like a crime scene/battlefield." Plaintiffs face allegedly developed bruises as a result of the extraction.

         On January 22, 2015, Plaintiff presented to the dental department wanting his "bad teeth fixed, " but he had no specific complaint. Dr. Witherspoon determined that Plaintiffs exam data was out of date and that an exam should be scheduled. Plaintiff does not allege that Dr. Witherspoon examined his mouth or that he told Dr. Witherspoon about the extraction from two weeks earlier.

         On February 25, 2015, Plaintiff presented for an exam and complained that he had "intense pain" from a "split tooth." Dr. Witherspoon says that Plaintiff refused pain medication. Dr. Witherspoon did not observe a split tooth but advised Plaintiff that tooth number 11 was worn from grinding, the opposing tooth was in contact with number 11, and no treatment was indicated. Plaintiff does not allege that he told Dr. Witherspoon about the extracted wisdom tooth from nearly seven weeks earlier. Dr. Witherspoon noted in the medical record that Plaintiff was argumentative and uncooperative during the exam, and Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Witherspoon said, "If you don't close your mouth I'm going to put my foot in it." The appointment on February 25, 2015, was Dr. Witherspoon's last contact with Plaintiff because, according to Plaintiff, Dr. Witherspoon was fired soon after their last appointment.

         Plaintiff alleges that on March 5, 2015, a medical doctor examined, inter alia, his mouth, noting that he has a broken right upper tooth and a gum infection. Plaintiff further alleges that on March 15, 2015, a new dentist at ACC replaced a filling that Dr. Witherspoon said was not missing. Plaintiff argues that, had Dr. Witherspoon identified the ...


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