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Baez v. Stine

July 31, 2007

JAMES A. BAEZ, PLAINTIFF
v.
STINE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is Defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment (Doc. 26), the Bivens*fn1 action brought by Plaintiff James A. Baez ("Baez"). Defendants are prison officials and medical staff from the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, Minnesota ("FPC-Duluth") and the Federal Prison Camp at Schuylkill ("FPC-Schuylkill") in Minersville, Pennsylvania.*fn2 Baez contends that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. For the reasons that follow, the motion for summary judgment will be granted in favor of Defendants.

I. Statement of Facts

To pierce the allegations of Baez, Defendants have submitted a statement of material facts (Doc. 33), supported by documentation and a declaration of one member of the medical staff of FPC-Schuylkill, as well as declarations of Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") employees who reviewed Baez's administrative remedy process. These submissions reveal the following facts.

At FPC-Duluth, Baez indicated on his intake history form dated September 3, 2003, that he had a history of headaches. (Doc. 33-2 at 19.) However, Baez's medical condition was unremarkable until July 2004, at which time he reported to health services at FPC-Duluth with complaints of neck pain, and was prescribed Ibuprofin. (Id.)

On August 4, 2004, Baez told medical staff during an evaluation that he had suffered neck pain after he fell backward while playing softball. (Id.) Staff diagnosed him with a neck strain and again prescribed Ibuprofin. (Id.) On August 9, 2004, Baez was examined and treated by staff for a superficial abrasion to his left temple. (Id.) He informed staff that he had bumped his head on the latch of his locker while he was bending over. (Id.)

On August 17, 2004, Baez reported to health services with complaints of a headache. (Id.) He described the pain as resonating from the back of his skull, behind his eyes, and in his left ear. (Id.) He also had suffered a single episode of loss of equilibrium while playing the trumpet two days before the examination. (Id.) There were no obviously visible indications of illness. (Id.) Baez was subsequently diagnosed with "dull left ear drum, 1 swelling in the nasal passages, tenderness over the left frontal sinus, a bilateral tenderness over the occipital prominence in the neck." (Id.) He was also diagnosed with myositis (muscle inflammation) and rhinitis. (Id.) Medical staff prescribed him an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory, and advised him to use moist heat for muscle irritation. (Id.)

On the evening of August 18, 2004, Baez was transported to a community hospital in an ambulance after he was found unconscious in the shower area of his dormitory. (Id.) Within approximately one hour a CT scan was performed, and Baez's condition was given a working diagnosis of sub-arachnoid*fn3 hemorrhage, and he was scheduled for surgery. (Id. at 21.) He was stabilized before surgery to alleviate intra-cranial pressure. (Id.) During surgery, doctors determined that Baez had suffered a left artery aneurysm rupture with sub-arachnoid hematoma. (Id.) After this surgery was performed, another surgery was performed to clip the aneurysm on August 20, 2004. (Id. at 36.) On September 2, 2004, Baez was fitted with a ventricular drainage shunt, and he was awake, responding to commands, and had opened his eyes. (Id.) He was transferred to a rehabilitation facility on September 8, 2004. (Id.) While in rehabilitation, the shunt that was draining excess fluid from Baez's brain ventricle became infected with Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ("MRSA" or "staph infection"). (Id. at 21.) As a result, Baez was returned to the hospital on September 26, 2004, where surgery was performed to replace the shunt on October 11, 2004. (Id.,Doc. 33-5 at 52.)

After the shunt was replaced, Baez was transferred back to the rehabilitation center on October 16, 2004, to continue therapy. (Doc. 33-2 at 21.) On October 22, 2004, Baez was transferred to the Federal Medical Center for inmate patients in Rochester, Minnesota, for further therapy. (Id. at 22.) During an evaluation conducted there on November 3, 2004, Baez indicated that he was doing well, was not on any medications, was maintaining good exercise, and was gaining weight. (Id., Doc. 33-5 at 52.)

Baez was transferred back to FPC-Duluth on January 4, 2005. While there, Baez complained of occasional dizziness, light and noise sensitivity, and some memory dysfunction. (Id.,Doc. 33-6 at 64.) He was examined approximately a dozen times by health services at FPC-Duluth between January and June 2005. (Doc. 33-2 at 22.)

On June 16, 2005, Baez complained of an extreme headache, and was immediately transported to the community hospital emergency room. (Id.) Doctors performed a CT scan, and found the aneurysm clip in place. (Id., Doc. 33-6 at 64.) He was then returned to FPC-Duluth.

Baez was transferred from FPC-Duluth to FPC-Schuylkill on September 6, 2005. Based on his history of a serious medical condition, Baez qualified for quarterly evaluations at the chronic care clinic. (Doc. 33-2 at 23.) Routine laboratory work was ordered.

On September 22, 2005, Baez was seen by Dr. Russell Hendershot for a routine physical examination. Baez was noted to be alert, oriented, and ambulating with a cane. (Id.) He was prescribed Zantac for general gastric distress. (Id.)

On September 29, 2005, Baez was seen again by Dr. Hendershot. He denied any headache, fevers, chills, nausea, or vomiting. (Id.) He complained of some muscle aches, but indicated that these pains were relieved by Motrin. (Id.) The examination revealed "no new neurological deficits." (Id. at 24.) He was prescribed Motrin, as needed for any pain.

Baez was seen again by Dr. Hendershot for complaints of a headache in the left frontal area on October 14, 2005. (Id.) He described the pain as a seven out of ten, with ten being the worst. (Id.) However, an examination again revealed "no new neurological deficits." (Id.) Dr. Hendershot prescribed Tylenol 500mg, and scheduled a consultation with neurosurgery for a routine follow-up of the aneurysm. (Id.)

On October 25, 2005, Baez was seen by Physician's Assistant ("P.A.") Francisco Ortiz for complaints of a headache in the area of the shunt. He described the pain as a six out of ten. (Id.) However, his vital signs were stable and he had ...


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