United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Steven J. Roy, Michael Cheney, Kevin Laurent, Matthew L. Tsopas, Daniel T. Rainville, and Jason R. Nolan
New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks; Director of Forensic Services Paula Mattis; Bernadette Campbell; Centurion of New Hampshire LLC; MHM Solutions, Inc.; Jose Aviles; Edward Dransite; FNU Anzel; Keith Batchelder; Raj Pande; and Kathy Belisle
J. Roy, pro se
Michael Cheney, pro se
Laurent, pro se
Matthew L. Tsopas, pro se
T. Rainville, pro se
R. Nolan, pro se
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge
the court is the complaint (Doc. No. 1), filed by plaintiffs,
Steven J. Roy, Michael Cheney, Kevin Laurent, Matthew L.
Tsopas, Daniel T. Rainville, and Jason R. Nolan, inmates at
the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility
(“NCF”). Plaintiffs assert violations of their
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights relating to their
unmet oral health needs, and NCF dental care practices that
they allege amount to dental malpractice under state law.
Plaintiffs, who have appeared in this case without counsel to
represent them, also seek to have their case certified as a
class action, brought on behalf of all NCF inmates who may
have dental health needs. Defendants named in their
individual and official capacities are New Hampshire
Department of Corrections (“DOC”) Commissioner
Helen Hanks; DOC Director of Medical and Forensic Services
Paula Mattis; DOC Deputy Director of Medical Services
Bernadette Campbell; (former) NCF Dental Administrator Kathy
Belisle; supervising dentists Dr. Jose Aviles, Dr. FNU Anzel,
and Dr. Edward Dransite; dental care providers Dr. Keith
Batchelder and Dr. Raj Pande; Centurion of New Hampshire LLC
(“Centurion”); and MHM Solutions, Inc.
matter has been referred to the magistrate judge to conduct
preliminary review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; LR
4.3(d)(1). That review is pending. As this case involves
multiple pro se plaintiffs requesting class certification,
the court subjects the instant complaint to a pre-screening
to determine whether class certification might be appropriate
in this case, whether the case should be maintained as a
joint action, or whether the matter should be severed into
multiple suits. See generally Fed.R.Civ.P. 21
(“On motion or on its own, the court may at any time,
on just terms, add or drop a party. The court may also sever
any claim against a party.”); see also Wheeler v.
Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 683 (7th
Cir. 2012) (district judges “should be able to spot a
complaint” with misjoined claims or defendants
“within days of its filing, ” and then
“solve the problem by severance (creating multiple
suits that can be separately screened)” or by
“dismissing the excess defendants”).
named plaintiffs have appeared together in a single case, for
which they paid a single filing fee. They each signed the
complaint (Doc. No. 1) individually, initiating this
action without counsel. These pro se plaintiffs assert claims
arising under state tort law and 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the defendant dental care providers and prison
administrators, based on the matters asserted in the
complaint and summarized below.
specifically assert that they have received inadequate
treatment for dental, endodontal, and periodontal issues
while at NCF, under the care of defendant dentists, dental
care providers, and (former) NCF dental administrator Kathy
Belisle, subject to the supervision of the defendant prison
administrators. Plaintiffs allege generally that the dental
department at NCF is understaffed and underfunded, and that
the dental care plaintiffs received has been inadequately
reactive, not appropriately preventive or proactive, and
manifests malpractice and deliberate indifference to their
dental health needs. In the prayer for relief in the
complaint (Doc. No. 1), plaintiffs ask for damages,
declaratory relief, and injunctive relief,  and seek to have
their case certified as a class action under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23.
2007 and 2009 Lawsuits
2007, plaintiff Steven Roy filed a lawsuit against a number
of prison officials, corrections officers, and dental care
providers, claiming, among other things, that defendants had
failed to provide him with adequate or appropriate dental
care, in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. See
Roy v. N.H. Dep't of Corr. Comm'r, No.
1:07-cv-353-PB (D.N.H.) (“Roy I”). Roy,
who filed that case pro se, moved for an appointment of
counsel to represent him, and the court granted that motion.
See Aug. 18, 2008 Order, Roy I (ECF No.
64). That case settled. See Dec. 24, 2009 Stip. of
Dismissal, Roy I (ECF No. 70).
2009, plaintiff Roy was the lead plaintiff in a group of
eight prisoner plaintiffs who, through counsel, jointly filed
a case challenging the adequacy of the dental care each of
those plaintiffs received while in DOC custody. See Roy
v. N.H. Dep't of Corr. Comm'r, No.
1:09-cv-00075-SM (D.N.H.) (“Roy
II”). That case also settled. See Jan.
20, 2011 Stip. of Dismissal, Roy II (ECF No. 47).
Roy asserts that, pursuant to the settlement agreement in the
2009 case, the defendants agreed to provide him with
semi-annual teeth cleanings, and to “fast-track”
the provision of upper and lower partial dentures to Roy.
asserts here that the DOC has failed to uphold those
commitments. Roy alleges that his teeth cleanings have not
occurred regularly each year. He further asserts he received
an upper partial in 2014, and a lower partial in December
2016, four to six years after the 2009 case settled. He
contends that delays in his receipt of the lower partial
caused him to lose a number of his bottom teeth.
Recent Dental Care Issues
asserts that the lower partial Dr. Anzel provided to him in
2016 was anchored to a tooth (#28) that
“disintegrated” a week later, and that neither
Dr. Anzel, nor any other provider in the NCF dental
department, responded to Roy's requests relating to the
loss of that tooth. Roy further alleges that although Dr.
Anzel diagnosed abscesses in his teeth (#2, #3, #23, #24, and
#25) in October 2016, none of those abscesses were promptly
treated. In July 2017, Roy went to dental sick call for
missing fillings in teeth #11 and #20, the disintegration of
tooth #28, the “break up” of tooth #23, and the
loss of tooth #27 from his lower partial. Dr. Anzel
prescribed antibiotics for abscesses in his teeth and
recommended that tooth #24 and tooth #25 be extracted. Dr.
Batchelder subsequently extracted teeth #23, #24, and #25.
Roy Aff. (Nov. 15, 2017), Doc. No. 1, at 47. Roy asserts that
the NCF dental department delayed or cancelled his
semi-annual cleanings on a number of ...