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California Pays $585,000 to Settle Suit by Prisoner Who Lost Eye Due to Poor Medical Care

California Pays $585,000 to Settle Suit by Prisoner Who Lost Eye Due to Poor Medical Care

by Michael Brodheim

California prison officials paid $585,000 to former prisoner Frank Lucero to settle his federal lawsuit alleging that he lost an eye due to inadequate medical care received while serving time for a parole violation in 2008.

Lucero had been diagnosed with glaucoma in his left eye during a prior incarceration. Upon his return to prison in February 2008, he repeatedly requested an appointment with an ophthalmologist so he could continue to receive medication he needed to relieve the pressure in his eye.

Lucero did not receive an appointment or the medicine, and in May 2008 his cornea ruptured. The following month medical personnel removed his left eye.

Lucero retained Pasadena attorney Ronald O. Kaye, who filed suit raising four causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including a claim of deliberate indifference to Lucero’s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The suit named as defendants the warden of the California Institution for Men at Chino (CIM), a medical appeals analyst, CIM’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Muhammad Farooq and Lucero’s primary care physician, Dr. Hoan Nguyen. Lucero sought compensation for physical and personal injuries as well as special and punitive damages.

Three days before the case was set to go to trial in June 2013, Lucero accepted the defendants’ settlement offer of $585,000 in exchange for dropping the doctors from the litigation and dismissing the suit. According to his attorney, the doctors were dropped to prevent them from being reported to the state medical board.

Dr. Nguyen continues to work at CIM. Lucero, who has been fitted with a prosthetic eye, moved to Arizona following his release. See: Lucero v. Nguyen, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:09-cv-02151-AGR.


Additional source: Los Angeles Times


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Related legal case

Lucero v. Nguyen