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Edkins v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 1, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          Hon. Robert J. Jonker




         Pro se plaintiff, a former federal prisoner, filed this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on February 18, 2015, under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. (“FTCA”) and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 503 U.S. 388 (1971) against defendants United States of America (the “government”) and Scott Kevin Dubois, D.D.S. (“Dr. Dubois”). See Compl. (ECF No. 1). After granting Dr. Dubois' motion for summary judgment, setting a scheduling order and extending discovery (see ECF Nos. 35, 36, and 40), that court granted the parties' stipulation to transfer the case to the Western District where plaintiff resides. See Stipulation and Order (ECF No. 41). This matter is now before the Court on the government's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 57).

         I. Plaintiff's claim

         This is plaintiff's second lawsuit in which he claims that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) failed to provide adequate dental care. By way of background, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Facility in Elkton, Ohio (“FCI Elkton”), released, and later incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Facility in Milan, Michigan (“FCI Milan”) for a supervised release violation. The government's brief set forth a summary of plaintiff's first malpractice action filed against the BOP for dental treatment at FCI Elkton:

In August 2008, Mr. Edkins pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to income tax evasion in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. (U.S.A. v. Edkins, 05-cr-00151, dkt. # 36.) The Court sentenced him to 41 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. (U.S.A. v. Edkins, 05-cr-00151, dkt. # 52; Suydam Decl. ¶ 3 & Attach. 1, dkt. # 22-2, PageID.88 & PageID.91-96.) Mr. Edkins served most of that term at FCI Elkton in Ohio. (Suydam Decl. ¶ 3 & Attach. 2, dkt. # 22-2, PageID.87 & PageID.97-98.)
On his arrival at FCI Elkton, Mr. Edkins' dental screening showed his oral hygiene was poor, he was missing teeth, and he had multiple fillings. (Elkton Dental R., dkt. # 22-7, PageID.189-197.) In November 2010, he had a tooth extracted. (Id. at PageID.195-197.) Mr. Edkins was released from FCI Elkton on March 17, 2011. (Suydam Decl. Attach. 1, dkt. # 22-2, PageID.96; Suydam Decl. Attach. 2, dkt. # 22-2, PageID.98.)
In November 2011, Mr. Edkins submitted an administrative tort claim to the Bureau of Prisons' Northeast Regional Office complaining of the dental care at FCI Elkton. (2011 Elkton Claim, dkt. # 22-3, PageID.120.) He claimed that the Bureau of Prisons' (“BOP”) neglect caused him pain and the loss of two teeth, prevented him from working, and would result in the loss of two more teeth in the near future. (Id. at PageID.120, 122-123.) The BOP denied Mr. Edkins' administrative claim in May 2012 because his damages had been caused by pre-existing dental problems, and, while at FCI Elkton, he had received sufficient dental care. (2012 Elkton Denial, dkt. # 22-4, PageID.128.)
In March 2013, Mr. Edkins filed suit in the Eastern District of Michigan, alleging that the dental staff at FCI Elkton had failed to timely examine or clean his teeth and thereby caused him pain, prevented him from working, and caused him to lose four teeth. (E.D. Mich. No. 13-11364, dkt. # 1, PageID.2.) The court dismissed the claim, and the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed its judgment. (6th Cir. Ct. App. No. 14-1972.)

         Government's Brief (ECF No. 58, PageID.409-410).

         In deciding Dr. Dubois' motion for summary judgment, the Court summarized the relevant facts of the present lawsuit commencing with plaintiff's history at FCI Elkton:

Edkins is a former inmate of the BOP. (See Compl., ECF #1 at 4, Pg. ID 4.) Edkins claims that when he began serving his sentence in 2009 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio (“Elkton”), he suffered from “chronic periodontal disease.” (Compl., ECF #1 at 4, Pg. ID 4.) Edkins' medical records from Elkton show that R. Hingham, D.D.S. removed one of Edkins' teeth in November 2010 because it was “hopelessly periodontally involved.” (ECF #22-2 at 7, Pg. ID 195.) A few months later, in March 2011, Ekdins [sic] was released from Elkton on supervised release. (See ECF #22-2 at 2, Pg. ID 88.)
While Edkins was on release, he sought dental treatment from M. VanderLaan, D.D.S. (“Dr. VanderLaan”), a private dentist with the Cherry Street Dental Clinic. (See ECF #22-3 at 3, Pg. ID 122.) Dr. VanderLaan noted that Edkins “may benefit from seeing a periodontist for periodontal [disease]” and recommended that Edkins see a dentist every three months. (Id. at 6, Pg. ID 125.)
In January 2012, Edkins violated the terms of his supervised release and was returned to the BOP's custody. (See ECF #22-2 at 2, Pg. ID 88.) Edkins served the remainder of his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan (“Milan”) from January 25, 2012 through April 23, 2013. (See id.)
While Edkins was incarcerated at Milan, he encountered Dr. Dubois. On January 31, 2012, Dr. Dubois performed a full dental screening pursuant to BOP policy. (See ECF #23-1 at 4, Pg. ID 207; ECF #22-6 at 2, Pg. ID 140.) Although Dr. Dubois noted that Edkins' “oral hygiene was found to be poor, ” he concluded that Edkins' risk for periodontal disease was “low.” (ECF #22-6 at 2-3, Pg. ID 140-41; see also ECF #22-5 at 1, Pg. ID 131.) Dr. Dubois attested that he followed the BOP's Clinical Practice Guidelines with respect to Edkins' dental care following the exam. (See ECF #22-6 at 3, Pg. ID 141.) Under those guidelines, “the protocol for patients with low periodontal risk is an annual exam by a general dentist and prophylaxis as needed.” (Id.; see also id. at 17, Pg. ID 155.)
Edkins' dental records show that he received treatment in accordance with these guidelines. For example, he received oral hygiene instruction in May and June of 2012. (See ECF #22-5 at 3-6, Pg. ID 133-36.) And on July 16, 2012, Edkins was given complete prophylaxis, which included “scaling and root planing of all four quadrants.” (ECF #22-6 at 3, Pg. ID 142; ECF #22-5 at 7, Pg. ID 137.) Moreover, Edkins was informed that if he suffered from “any [ ] urgent dental concerns, ” he would be permitted to “sign up for dental sick call.” (ECF #22-2 at 33, Pg. ID 119.) However, there is no evidence in the record that Edkins complained to the BOP staff that he suffered from dental pain or experienced a dental emergency while he was housed at Milan. (See ECF #22-6 at 3, Pg. ID 141.)

         On April 23, 2013, Edkins was released to a half-way house, and he completed his sentence on August 16, 2013. (Se ...

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