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Bernard Martinez v. Dr. L. A. Delio

April 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge



On July 1, 2011, Plaintiff Bernard Martinez, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening.


The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious," or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).


The Complaint names the following Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) officials as Defendants in this action: (1) Dr. L.A. Delio; (2) Dr. M. Spaeth; (3) Dr. Cherry Lopez, Health Care Manager (HCM) and Chief Medical Officer (CMO); (4) S. Zamora, HCM; (5) Martha, HCM; (6) Sonia, HCM; (7) T. Nguyen, Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN); and (8) Anthoney Hedgpeth, Warden.

Plaintiff alleges the following*fn1

In June, 2007, a spider bit Plaintiff's rectum. The bite area swelled and discharged blood, puss, and feces. Plaintiff suffered severe pain exacerbated by movement. Plaintiff could not carry out any daily activities. He experienced cold sweats, fevers, weight loss, and an inability to keep food down. (Compl. at 4.)

On June 18, 2007, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Delio. Plaintiff told Delio of the symptoms and attributed them to the spider bite. Delio concluded that Plaintiff was suffering from an internal hemorrhoid or abscess. Defendant Delio did not treat the infected area or address Plaintiff's pain; Plaintiff was dismissed without treatment. (Id. at 4, 5.) Plaintiff repeatedly filed medical care requests and eventually was seen by Defendant Spaeth on July 12, 2007. Defendant Spaeth examined Plaintiff and determined that the wound had become infected and warranted emergency surgery. Nevertheless, Defendant Spaeth provided no immediate treatment and sent Plaintiff back to his cell. (Id. at 5.) Neither Dr. Spaeth "nor anyone else bothered to treat [Plaintiff's] infected wound . . . ." (Id.) He returned to his living quarters and "continue[d] suffering needlessly." (Id.)

Plaintiff persisted in filing health care appeals. Defendant Delio responded to one such appeal on October 15, 2007, and coordinated with HCM Martha to try and schedule surgery as ordered by Spaeth. (Id.) Dr. Shuster performed surgery on November 8, 2007, at Corcoran State Hospital (Corcoran). (Id. at 6.) After surgery, Dr. Shuster ordered a pan to use to rinse the wound after bowel movements, antibiotic cream, and fresh bandages, all to stave off infection. None were provided and Plaintiff suffered "unexplainable pain" as a result. (Id.)

On November 10, 2007, Plaintiff told LVN Nguyen that he had been bleeding excessively since the surgery. Defendant Nguyen responded by stating that "I can[']t help you because it's the weekend and no doctors are on ground until Monday." (Id. at 5.) The following day Plaintiff was transported to the emergency room. (Id.) Dr. Schaeffer examined Plaintiff at the emergency room on November 11, 2007, but provided no medical care. (Id. at 5, 6.) Schaeffer determined that Plaintiff needed to be seen by Dr. Shuster. Plaintiff saw Dr. Shuster on November 26, 2007. (Id. at 6.)

A second surgery, to remove sutures, was scheduled in January, 2008, but delayed until July 10, 2008. After the sutures were removed, the deficient post-surgical care continued. Dr. Shuster prescribed Plaintiff medication and a rinse pan; the medical staff provided neither. (Id.)

The Complaint asserts that the Defendants violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Delio misdiagnosed the spider bite, Dr. Spaeth ordered surgery but provided no immediate treatment, Plaintiff's surgeries were delayed, and LVN Nguyen ignored Plaintiff's complaints after the first operation. The aforementioned caused ...

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