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Holiday v. Naku

June 25, 2009

CURTIS HOLLIDAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
B. NAKU, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendant Naku's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 22).*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Allegations

This action proceeds on plaintiff's original complaint which names D.K. Sisto, the prison warden, B. Naku, a doctor, and A. Traquina, the chief medical officer.*fn2 Plaintiff states that he injured a finger on his right hand on September 9, 2006, while playing football. He reported to the prison medical clinic where he was treated by P. Campbell, a nurse. Campbell wrapped the finger, provided pain relievers, and recommended a follow-up with a prison doctor. According to plaintiff, an x-ray was taken on September 11, 2006, which revealed a fracture of the right fourth finger. On September 12, 2006, he was seen by defendant Naku, who placed a splint on plaintiff's finger and ordered an orthopedic consultation within seven days.

After a week had passed with no further treatment, plaintiff submitted an inmate appeal requesting treatment. He stated that he was in terrible pain and that the medication he had been given was not effective. Plaintiff also stated in his appeal that he was unable to use his right hand at all and that he feared permanent damage. Plaintiff was seen on September 19, 2006, by defendant Naku. Plaintiff states that defendant Naku told him that he was still awaiting authorization for an outside consultation and that the doctor continued him on his current pain medication. On September 20, 2006, plaintiff wrote a "personal letter" to defendant Traquina complaining of the pain in his finger and informing him that he had not received any treatment. On September 26, 2006, plaintiff received a response from defendant Traquina indicating that a "consultation was written" and that "an appointment is pending scheduling." On September 29, 2006, defendant Traquina issued a second level response to plaintiff's inmate appeal, concluding that his medical issues have been addressed and that the treatment he has received to date was appropriate.

As of October 12, 2006, plaintiff still had not seen an orthopedic specialist for consultation and plaintiff submitted his appeal for review at the director's level. In this appeal, plaintiff noted that it had been over a month since his injury. Plaintiff submitted another inmate appeal on November 9, 2006, complaining that he still had not received adequate treatment for his finger. He requested that he immediately be taken to an outside hospital for consultation and treatment "so I do not lose the use of my finger." On November 27, 2006, plaintiff received a response to his most recent appeal from Dr. Hsieh. According to plaintiff, the doctor stated that "[a]n urgent referral has been submitted on your behalf." As of December 10, 2006, plaintiff still had not been scheduled for an outside consultation and he submitted another inmate appeal. This appeal was answered at the director's level on December 27, 2006, with an indication that no unresolved issues remained because his earlier appeals had been partially granted.

On January 8, 2007, plaintiff received a response to an earlier appeal stating that "efforts are being made to get you evaluated by a hand surgeon at U.C. San Francisco." As of May 9, 2007, plaintiff still had not been scheduled for an outside consultation and plaintiff requested an interview with defendant Traquina. Plaintiff states that he was finally taken to U.C. San Francisco for an outside consultation on June 22, 2007. He states that his injured finger was re-broken, tendons in the finger were removed, and the finger was set in what he describes as a "permanent claw" position. Plaintiff states that the attending physician at U.C. San Francisco told him that, had he received treatment within one month of the injury, he could have expected a full recovery.

B. The Parties' Evidence

Defendant Naku's evidence, which consists of his declaration, documents from plaintiff's prison medical file, and plaintiff' s responses to discovery, reveal the following:

1. Defendant Naku's duties were to see prisoners and to treat their medical problems based on the history they provided and his own objective findings;

2. Defendant Naku saw plaintiff clinically for the first time on September 12, 2006, and conducted a focused examination of plaintiff's finger and noted that plaintiff was not in distress but that he had marked tenderness of his right fourth finger with an inability to flex the finger;

3. Defendant Naku assessed a probable fracture and ordered an x-ray; 4. The x-ray revealed a small chip fracture of the base of the distal phalanx of the fourth right finger;

5. Defendant Naku placed a splint on plaintiff's injured finger and prescribed Motrin for pain;

6. Defendant Naku also wrote an urgent referral for plaintiff to have an outside orthopedic ...


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