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Paul Baldonado v. United States of America

July 25, 2011

PAUL BALDONADO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge: Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen

POSTTRIAL FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

INTRODUCTION

On June 7--9, 2011, the Court held a bench trial on Plaintiff Paul Baldonado's claim for medical malpractice against Defendant the United States of America. Having reviewed the testimony and exhibits presented at trial, the Court now makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.*fn1

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1).

2. Venue is proper in the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1402(b).

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Defendant is sued in this matter for medical malpractice based on the medical care Plaintiff received from the Veterans Administration Medical Center-Long Beach ("VAMCLB").

2. Plaintiff was born in the Philippines, enlisted in the United States Navy in 1967, and served until 1987.

3. During his service, he was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and was prescribed various medications for this condition.

4. Following his discharge from the Navy in 1987, he received medical treatment, including for bipolar disorder, at the VAMCLB.

5. Among his treating physicians was psychiatrist James N. Nelson, M.D., who had also treated Baldonado during his Navy service.

6. Throughout the course of his treatment of Baldonado, Dr. Nelson was deemed to be a federal employee acting within the course and scope of his employment.

7. In 1993, Baldonado was diagnosed with hepatitis B, a viral infection that causes damage to the liver.

8. He was treated with a course of interferon therapy in 1994, but liver function tests thereafter continued to show elevated levels of liver enzymes as well as other results outside normal limits.

9. During the mid-1990s, Baldonado began to experience side effects from lithium, the primary medication used to treat his bipolar disorder, which he had taken for many years.

10. The side effects from Baldonado's lithium use included kidney damage and hand tremors that rendered him unable to write.

11. As a result, in February to March 1996, Baldonado was admitted to the VAMCLB, where he was taken off lithium and placed on Depakote, another ...


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