The story begins with an inmate at the Logan County Jail, named Mark Traxler, who was denied dental care at the Colorado facility; it involves one abscessed tooth, one pair of rusty pliers, and five helpful inmates; and on Tuesday, February 17, a lawsuit was filed in the Denver County Court which will (hopefully) be the beginning of the end.
Although Traxler has likely already joined the estimated three million Americans who have cosmetic dental implant appliances in lieu of natural teeth, attorney David Lane filed the lawsuit for Traxler, who is reportedly seeking “compensatory and punitive damages” against the Logan County Sheriff and Jail staff, according to The Denver Channel.
According to the Denver Post, back in March 2013, Traxler had one abscessed tooth that became painfully infected; he “‘begged’ for dental and medical care,” the Post states, “but the medical and sheriff’s department staff at the jail denied him any access to a dentist.”
The pain didn’t go away, and by March 18th, Lane explained to the Post, that “a deputy and jail nurse gave Mr. Traxler a pair of rusty pliers and a roll of gauze and told him to have some of the ‘fellas’ in the back give him a hand and pull the tooth.”
These five inmates indeed tried to pull the tooth out — with four men holding Traxler down and the fifth man serving as his new dentist — but the rust-covered pliers only managed to break off the top part of the already-damaged tooth, along with the top of a nearby (perfectly healthy) tooth. After this resulted in even more pain and extensive bleeding, jail staff reportedly continued to deny Traxler any medical care.
Unsurprisingly, the tooth quickly became infected, and three additional teeth became abscessed within three weeks of the botched dental procedure.
On April 30th, Traxler was finally allowed to see a dentist, which resulted in two tooth extractions.
Although the incident happened nearly two years ago, and although Traxler is still reportedly serving time in the Logan County Jail, his lawyer believes that this incident is a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment (in this case, denying Traxler basic and necessary medical care).
Lt. John Johnson, the administrator of the jail, has declined to comment on the lawsuit, stating that the jail has not yet been served with the court papers from Tuesday.