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Holliday v. Traquina

November 15, 2010

CURTIS HOLLIDAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALVARO C. TRAQUINA, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to the written consent of all parties, this case is before the undersigned as the presiding judge for all purposes, including entry of final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending before the court are the parties' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 45 and 46).

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Allegations

This action proceeds on plaintiff's original complaint. 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 Dr. 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 Dr. Naku. Plaintiff states that Dr. 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's evidence consists of his own declaration. Defendant contends the following facts are undisputed:

1. At all relevant times, defendant was the prison chief medical officer and health care manager, whose duties included overseeing clinic operations, responding to health care delivery problems, reviewing medical appeals filed by inmates, and implementing inmate patient transfers.

2. Defendant's office received a letter from plaintiff on September 22, 2006, in which plaintiff requests to be seen by a specialist for his fractured finger.

3. On September 26, 2006, defendant responded by informing plaintiff that a consult request would be written the next day and that the matter was pending scheduling.

4. On September 25, 2006, defendant was assigned to provide a second level response to plaintiff's inmate appeal.

5. Defendant responded to the appeal on September 29, 2006, and granted the appeal insofar as plaintiff's case was in the process of being referred for an outside consultation.

6. Plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Shifflett at an outside hospital on October 13, 2006. The doctor reported that plaintiff required hand surgery within the next couple of weeks at the latest.

7. On November 8, 2006, an urgent referral to a hand surgeon was requested based on Dr. Shifflett's October 13, 2006, report.

8. Plaintiff filed a second inmate appeal on November 9, 2006, complaining that he still had not been ...


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