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Michael Vaughan v. State of California

June 25, 2012

MICHAEL VAUGHAN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL.,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER: (1) ADOPTING IN PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [DOC. 33], (2) SUSTAINING DEFENDANTS' OBJECTIONS [DOC. 34], AND (3) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 26]

On August 15, 2011, Plaintiff Michael Vaughan, a former state prisoner, filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging: (1) deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (2) medical malpractice under California law stemming from the medical care he received while in prison. On February 9, 2012, Defendants Reymia Ramos, RN ("Nurse Ramos"), Alberto Lopez, RN ("Nurse Lopez"), and Cheryl Burnette, O.D. ("Dr. Burnette") filed a motion to dismiss the FAC. Plaintiff opposed. On March 16, 2012, United States Magistrate Judge William McCurine, Jr. issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report") with respect to the motion. Thereafter, Defendants filed objections to the Report, and Plaintiff filed a reply.

For the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS IN PART the Report (Doc. 33), SUSTAINS Defendants' objections (Doc. 34), and GRANTS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND Defendants' motion to dismiss the FAC (Doc. 26).

BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison ("Calipatria") on or about June 26, 2008.*fn2 (FAC ¶ 13.) After arriving at Calipatria, Plaintiff had surgery to correct beefy pterygium in his left eye. (Id. ¶ 14.) Following the surgery, Plaintiff reported pain and discomfort in his left eye weekly to Calipatria medical personnel, but received no specialized treatment or prescription medication. (Id. ¶ 15.)

On June 2, 2009, Dr. Burnette, a licensed optometrist, noted in Plaintiff's medical records that Plaintiff was exhibiting physical signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer in his left eye. (FAC ¶ 16.) However, she did not refer Plaintiff to an ophthalmologist for treatment.*fn3 (Id.) On June 18, 2009, Dr. Burnette once again noted in Plaintiff's medical record that Plaintiff was exhibiting physical signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer in his left eye. (Id. ¶ 19.) Once again, she did not refer Plaintiff to an ophthalmologist for treatment, but instead directed Plaintiff to return to his cell without any medication or explanation. (Id. ¶ 20.)

On June 20, 2009, Dr. Le, an ophthalmologist, noted that Plaintiff was exhibiting physical signs and symptoms of corneal ulcer in his left eye and wrote Plaintiff a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. (FAC ¶ 22.) However, between June 20, 2009 and June 22, 2009, Calipatria medical personnel failed to provide Plaintiff with medication for his left eye. (Id. ¶

On June 22, 2009, Plaintiff presented to Calipatria medical clinic complaining that he had not received his eye drops. (FAC ¶ 24.) At that time, Nurse Ramos noted that Dr. Le prescribed

Plaintiff antibiotic eye drops for his left eye, but did not explain why Calipatria medical personnel had not filled Plaintiff's prescription. (Id.) Rather, Nurse Ramos noted that Plaintiff's medical chart was missing and directed Plaintiff to return to his cell without his eye drops. (Id.)

On June 25, 2009, Plaintiff presented to Calipatria medical clinic and again complained that he had not received his antibiotic eye drops. (FAC ¶ 26.) Nurse Lopez noted in Plaintiff's medical records that Plaintiff was exhibiting physical signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer in his left eye, yet did not refer Plaintiff to an ophthalmologist. (Id.) Instead, he directed Plaintiff to return to his cell without his antibiotic eye drops or an examination by an ophthalmologist.

.)

In July 2009, an outside ophthalmologist examined Plaintiff's left eye. (FAC ¶ 27.) The ophthalmologist diagnosed him with an advanced corneal ulcer and severe eye infection caused bacteria in the anterior chamber of the left eye. (Id.) The ophthalmologist prescribed and administered antibiotics to Plaintiff's left eye. (Id.) Plaintiff required ongoing treatment and care for his infected left eye, which included administering antibiotic eye drops. (Id.)

Calipatria ran out of Plaintiff's prescribed eye drops in August 2009. (FAC ¶ 28.) Consequently, Dr. Katrina Ball, D.O. ("Dr. Ball") instructed Nurse Lopez to administer medication which Plaintiff's ophthalmologist had discontinued. (Id.) Dr. Ball changed the eye medication without consulting Plaintiff's ophthalmologist, and subsequently, Plaintiff had surgery to excise the corneal ulcer in his left eye. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29.)

On June 1, 2011, Plaintiff commenced this action against Dr. Ball, among others, alleging a deliberate indifference to his medical needs.*fn4 On August 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed a FAC against Dr. Ball and added Nurse Ramos, Nurse Lopez, and Dr. Burnette as defendants. Additionally, Plaintiff added a medical-malpractice cause of action against Dr. Ball, Nurse Ramos, Nurse Lopez, and Dr. Burnette. Nurse Ramos, Nurse Lopez, and ...


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