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Peter Dale Graves v. Karen Todd

April 17, 2012


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


Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court are: (1) motion for summary judgment by defendant Wilson (Doc. 54); (2) motion for summary judgment by defendants Sattah and Song (Doc. 55); (3) motion for summary judgment by defendant Whitney (Doc. 67); and (4) motion for summary judgment by defendants Todd, Martinez, and Hashimoto (Doc. 197).


This action proceeds on plaintiff's original complaint. On May 8, 2007, the court issued an order finding that service was appropriate as to defendants Todd, Martinez, Hashimoto, Sattah, Mallat, Song, Wilson, and Whitney. Defendant Mallat was dismissed on June 16, 2008. All remaining defendants have appeared.

A. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff states that he broke his finger on July 16, 2006. Plaintiff was later transported to Doctor's Hospital in Manteca, California, on July 18, 2006. According to plaintiff, defendants Sattah and Song -- both doctors at Doctor's Hospital -- rendered diagnoses without ever examining plaintiff's finger. Plaintiff states that, between July 19, 2006, and August 8, 2006, he was repeatedly told by defendants Todd, Martinez, and Hashimoto -- all alleged to be prison medical staff -- that his finger was not broken but merely badly sprained. Plaintiff states that he made repeated requests to see a doctor for pain medication and that, on August 21, 2006, he was seen by defendant Hashimoto who told plaintiff that he had a "cracked bone."

B. The Parties' Evidence

1. Defendants' Evidence

Defendants have submitted separate statements of undisputed fact in support of their various motions for summary judgment. The statements of undisputed fact are supported by defendants' declarations with attached exhibits, as well as expert declarations (in support of the summary judgment motions filed by defendants Whitney, Weaver, Sattah, and Song). The evidence is summarized below.

Defendants Hashimoto, Todd, and Martinez

* On July 16, 2006, plaintiff fell on his left elbow and left hand while playing basketball and was provided Motrin and instructed to return to the medical clinic the next morning.

* At all relevant times, Hashimoto was a doctor employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), Todd was a physician's assistant employed by the CDCR, and Martinez was a licensed registered nurse employed by the CDCR.

* Todd treated plaintiff on July 17, 2006. She applied a dressing to plaintiff's fourth and fifth fingers on the left hand and also applied a sling. Because no x-ray facilities were available at the prison, Todd planned to have plaintiff transported to an outside hospital for x-rays to rule out left elbow fracture and avulsion fracture of the fifth middle finger.

* Plaintiff was transported to Doctor's Hospital where x-rays were obtained on July 18, 2006. The emergency room clinician interpreted the x-rays as being within normal limits without fracture or abnormal alignment. The clinician's assessment was contusion of the left elbow and sprain of the left fifth finger. Plaintiff's left fifth finger was taped, his elbow was placed in a sling, and he was returned to the prison that same day.

* Hashimoto was the physician on call when plaintiff returned to the prison on July 18, 2006. Upon plaintiff's return, Hashimoto prescribed Naprosyn 500 mg as needed for pain.

* Plaintiff was seen by Todd for follow-up care on August 7, 2006. Todd ordered new x-rays and provided plaintiff an additional prescription for Naprosyn for pain.

* A second set of x-rays was obtained on August 8, 2006. These x-rays showed a fracture of the left fifth finger (specifically, a fracture of the proximal phalanx distal portion extending into the articular margin).

* On August 9, 2006, Hashimoto ordered an urgent orthopedic consultation. The scheduling of the consultation was not, however, within Hashimoto's control.

* On August 21, 2006, plaintiff was seen by Martinez for follow-up care. At that time, plaintiff complained of pain in his left hand and left elbow, which had developed a water pocket. Martinez noted that plaintiff's orthopedic consultation had been referred to "Telemed," but that no appointment had been scheduled. Martinez wrapped plaintiff's finger per instructions from Hashimoto.

* On September 11, 2006, plaintiff was seen by Todd for follow-up care. Todd noted that plaintiff's referral had been completed, though she states that she had no control over scheduling.

* Todd saw plaintiff again for follow-up care on October 11, 2006. She informed plaintiff that his orthopedic consultation had been approved and scheduled for October 26, 2006.*fn2

* Hashimoto states that, in his professional opinion, plaintiff was provided all reasonably necessary medical care consistent with the standards in the medical community. Hashimoto, Todd, and Martinez each state that at no time did they intentionally or knowingly deny or delay medical treatment.

Defendants Sattah and Song

* Sattah is a radiologist at Doctor's Hospital, where plaintiff was taken on July 18, 2006. On July 19, 2006, Sattah dictated his formal interpretation of the July 18, 2006, x-rays. The doctor noted normal bony mineralization without acute fracture, subluxation, or erosive changes. The doctor did, however, report a tiny foreign body in the soft tissue of the proximal fourth digit.

* Sattah's report was "administratively authenticated" by Song, another doctor at Doctor's Hospital, on July 20, 2006. An "administrative authentication" is merely a check for correct spelling and grammar and does not involve comparing the report with the original x-ray films. Song's only involvement was to perform the administrative authentication.

* According to expert witness George M. Khoury, M.D., the July 18, 2006, x-rays were properly interpreted by Sattah, and Song performed properly and within community standards with respect to the administrative authentication. Defendant Whitney

* Whitney, an orthopedic surgeon at Tuolumne General Hospital at all relevant times, treated plaintiff on November 9, 2006. On examination of plaintiff's injured finger, the doctor noted mild swelling around the proximal interphalangeal ("PIP") joint. He also noted that the finger was very stiff at all joints.

* Whitney ordered new x-rays, which showed a defect on the ulnar aspect of the distal proximal phalanx. Whitney's impression was that there was injury to the proximal interphalangeal joint of the left ...

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