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Drilling Teeth Without Anesthesia and Denial of Lower Bunk Upheld

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant forced him to take an upper bunk despite his visual impairment and made him stay there after he got a medical direction to take a bottom bunk; a month and a half later he fell and hurt himself. The defendant could not be held liable because there is no indication that he knew of the plaintiff's medical problem and disregarded it; and even if he knew of the medical instruction, in light of his medical records indicating possible malingering, his refusal to comply with them would not be deliberate indifference in the absence of a statement in the medical instruction of the medical details.

The magistrate judge erred in recommending summary judgment on plaintiff's complaint about having his teeth drilled without anesthesia on the ground that the plaintiff must have consented to the treatment since his cooperation was necessary; the plaintiff testified that he was forcefully held down. However, the plaintiff's serious medical need was for tooth repair, not for anesthesia, and his complaint is merely a disagreement with the medical treatment provided (i.e., drilling without anesthesia). At 651: "Dental treatment anesthesia is a relatively modern convenience."

This is a remarkable instance of a court's seizing upon any excuse to dismiss a prisoner's claim. See: Bout v. Bolden, 22 F.Supp.2d 646 (E.D.Mich. 1998).

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Related legal case

Bout v. Bolden