The Michigan Corrections Department is fighting back in a lawsuit by an inmate who claims he lost a tooth and suffered gum disease because of a lack of toothpaste.
Jerry Flanory of Flint made headlines last spring when he persuaded a federal court to allow him to sue officials at an Upper Peninsula prison. In response, the state now is offering a different diagnosis of his mouth.
In a court filing, officials say Flanory entered the Newberry prison in 2004 with only five of the typical 32 teeth. They say the one that was yanked two years later had long been in poor condition and toothpaste wouldn't have prevented the problem.
The 58-year-old Flanory claims he was denied free or subsidized toothpaste as a punishment for not attending prison classes.