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Doctors, Jailers Blamed for Inmate’s Eye Loss

(CN) - A former Victoria County jail inmate says he lost an eye due to the indifference of county doctors, and officers who threw him into solitary confinement for five days after an inmate punched him, and lacerated his eyeball.

Isaac Rojas sued Victoria County, its hospital Citizens Medical Center, two county doctors and several county jail employees in Federal Court.

Rojas, then 62, says an inmate assaulted him on Feb. 7, 2010, leaving his left eye blackened, and swollen shut.

Rojas says jail employees then took him to the county run hospital Citizens Medical Center, but the doctors and nurses who treated and interacted with him failed to perform a visual acuity or any other type of eye exam on him.

Rojas says even after a third physician told the treatment providers he had air in his "left orbit signifying a potential injury," they did not refer him to an eye doctor.

Instead, Rojas says he was sent back to Victoria County jail with his eye untreated.

He says officers took him to the infirmary when he returned to jail, and a nurse examined him and noted that his eye was "bloody and swollen shut."

But despite this, Rojas says, the nurse did not keep him under observation.

"Sometime shortly after midnight on February 8, 2010, the jail placed Mr. Rojas in solitary confinement in a lockdown cell, with no direct access to medical care," according to the complaint. "At no point from February 8, 2010 to his transfer on or around February 13, 2010 did any medical provider check on Mr. Rojas or even have a guard check on him despite their knowledge of his injuries."

It continues, "Mr. Rojas remained in lockdown and unable see the nurse or any other medical provider on his own. As a consequence, the pain in his left eye persisted and Mr. Rojas' vision deteriorated.

"Each time guards would bring him food, he asked to see the nurse because of pain to his eye and vision difficulties. He even asked specifically for a sick call form, as he had done in the past, and as he believed to be necessary to see the nurse," the complaint says.

Rojas says officers prevented him from getting treatment because sick call requests were not available to inmates in lockdown, and they ignored his pleas for help on his cell's intercom.

On or around February 9, 2010, Rojas says, he was visited by Anthony Daniel, an individual involved in deciding whether to prosecute the individuals who assaulted him.

Rojas says he again requested to see the nurse because his eye was in so much pain, but Daniel refused, telling him he would get to see a doctor when he was transferred to the jail in San Antonio later that week.

Upon his transfer, he was seen by a doctor who promptly referred him to an ophthalmologist.

"But, it was too late," the complaint says. "Mr. Rojas could no longer see out of his left eye and needed to undergo surgery to remove the eyeball altogether so as to prevent additional harm." Rojas seeks damages for civil rights violations and medical malpractice.

He is represented by Jeff Edwards of Austin.

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