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Inmate's Section 1983 Suit Claiming a Failure to Refer to Dentist, Plus Criminal Matter

By FindLaw Staff on May 05, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Berry v. Peterman, No. 09-3557, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an inmate's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a nurse, a doctor and jail administrator, claiming violation of his Eighth Amendment right for refusing to refer him to a dentist for a serious toothache. 

The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that plaintiff has raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether he exhausted his administrative remedies, and also the conclusion that  plaintiff suffered a serious medical condition and that the jail administrator is entitled to summary judgment because he was not deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's situation.  However, the court vacated the grant of summary judgment as plaintiff has offered sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that the doctor and nurse acted with deliberate indifference toward his condition by persisting in an easy but ineffective course of treatment that subjected him to two months of serious but avoidable pain.     

Stuart v. Rech, No. 09-3857, involved a pro se defendant's pleading filed in the district court, captioned "replevin," seeking return of his property seized by an IRS agent during execution of a search warrant.  The district judge dismissed the pleading on the ground that it was "equivalent" to the Rule 41(g) motion previously denied by a magistrate judge. 

The court first noted that a magistrate judge does not have authority to rule finally on Rule 41(g) motions, but nonetheless affirmed the dismissal  but not on the ground decided by the district judge, as it was a bona fide civil complaint and not a Rule 41(g) motion, but it had no possible merit. 

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