Prison Is Ordered By Federal Judge To Provide Inmate A Consultation For Oral Surgery
A judge in the United States has issued an order for a prison, located in Pennsylvania, to provide an inmate with the dental consultation for oral surgery. The inmate was experiencing pain due to an impacted wisdom tooth for almost two years, according to an opinion from the court.
The prison, that is located in Erie County, Pennsylvania, must provide the inmate, Jhen Scutella, a dental consultation with a dental professional such as an oral surgeon, or another suitable dental professional. In addition, the prison must also provide Scutella with transportation for the consultation visit. This decision was made during the hearing when Scutella acted as his own legal representative.
According to the court’s opinion that was issued by Magistrate Judge Richard Lanzillo (United States District Court -Western District of Pennsylvania) on February 5, the prison likely denied Scutella the necessary dental treatment because of the associated costs.
In his ruling, the judge made it clear that his decision was based on finding a qualified oral surgeon or other dental professional who had the required knowledge, skills and equipment to properly provide the Consultation For Oral Surgery.
The judge did not, however, make a decision on whether or not Scutella’s dental issue required professional treatment. It was noted that the decision for Scutella to receive treatment or not will be determined by the dental and medical professionals who will be handling his post consultation care in the prison.
Scutella was sentenced and taken into state custody on May 1st of 2019 after being convicted on a felony drug charge. He was diagnosed with having an impacted wisdom tooth before he was convicted. It was in July when Scutella began to experience issues with the impacted wisdom tooth such as consistent pain. He even stated that on a scale from 1 to 10, he often experienced pain at levels between 8 and 9.
He was seen several times by the dentist in the prison and other medical professionals. He felt as though he was not receiving proper care in regards to his dental problems, and he decided to file a lawsuit in federal court.
Prison Refusing To Pay
During the court hearing, the judge also listened to evidence that prison officials may have been trying to ‘allow the clock to run down’ to prevent having to provide dental care for 34 year old Scutella while he was incarcerated. If they could avoid having to pay for a consultation outside of the prison, then Scutella would have to live with the problem until he was released.
Scutella offered the court plenty of evidence and testimonies that showed adequate proof that the prison refused him his 8th Amendment right. This Amendment prohibits punishment that is cruel and unusual. He argued the prison did this by refusing to offer him the right care for his impacted wisdom tooth.
The judge agreed and decided that by ignoring Scutella’s dental issues, the prison was willfully indifferent, and delayed the treatment for reasons that were not medically based.
The judge referenced one prison medical record in which the dentist at the prison stated that the problem could not be properly treated at the prison. Even though it was not fatal, it needed to be taken care of when Scutella was released.
In his opinion, the judge also made it clear that delaying an offsite consultation greatly outweighed any money the prison would have to spend to arrange the consultation.
Finally, Lanzillo noted that the cost of consultation and any resulting treatment is not greater than the pain Scutella would endure if denied his right to treatment.