Philip Vincent v United States of America

Case Name: Philip Vincent v United States of America

Case No: CV08-03286FMC(PJW)

Court: United States District Court – Central District of California

Case Type: Civil Rights – Inmate Medical Care

Trial Judge: Honorable Florence-Marie Cooper

Settlement Date: August 24, 2009

Settlement: $250,000.00

Plaintiff’s Attorney: John Jahrmarkt, Esq.


Defense Attorney: Gwendolyn M. Gamble, Esq.

United States Attorney

Experts: Plaintiff: Alessandro F. Anfuso, MS, CVE – Vocational Rehabilitation

Diamond Bar

Jan Roughan – Life Care

Arcadia, California

Alan Berg MD – Ophthalmology

Sherman Oaks, California

Defendant: Lawrence Chong MD Retinal Specialist

Los Angeles, California

Plaintiff’s contentions:

Plaintiff sustained injuries to his left eye causing blindness while incarcerated in a federal prison operated by Defendant. The injuries resulted from the progression of a fully treatable and curable medical condition that worsened during Plaintiff’s nine month period of incarceration because of the neglect and deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs amounting to violation of Plaintiff’s Constitutional right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.

In mid September 2006 Plaintiff’s vision was 20/20 in both eyes but he was diagnosed with a spontaneous virtuous hemorrhage in the left eye with a possible retinal tear. Plaintiff was then recommended to consult a retinal specialist and Plaintiff was specifically advised that failure to treat his condition could result in blindness.

In early December 2006, Plaintiff was remanded to custody in federal prison prior to obtaining the treatment needed to his left eye. Despite numerous requests to see a prison doctor, Plaintiff did not receive any medical attention for his eyes until March 2007 when the prison eye doctor noted a possible hemorrhage or detached retina. Plaintiff received no further medical attention for the eye problem until May 2007, when prison doctors noted a hemorrhage in Plaintiff’s left eye.

It was not until August 2007 that Plaintiff finally was referred to an outside retinal specialist, who noticed a complete loss of vision in Plaintiff’s left eye and recommend retinal surgery. Plaintiff was released from custody in December 2007 without any other medical care.

Defense contentions:

Defendant contended that the prison medical staff did not fall below the standard of care in diagnosing and treating Plaintiff in that it was within the standard of care for Defendant to wait and see if Plaintiff’s eye cleared naturally. Defendant further contended that it not violate Plaintiff’s constitutional rights to receive adequate medical care while in custody and that Plaintiff’s difficulty seeing was not permanent and some, or more than some of his vision could have be restored if he pursued appropriate medical treatment after he was released from custody. Defendant also contended that the damage to Plaintiff’s eye became permanent only after he was released from federal custody.


Plaintiff’s life care plan showed the present value of future medical to be between $400,000 on the low side and $600,000 on the high side. Plaintiff also contended his loss of income to be in the range of $160,000 and $300,000. Defendant asserted that MIRCA limited Plaintiff’s non-economic damages to $250,000 and that Plaintiff’s loss of income and future medical care were speculative and not supported by Plaintiff’s earnings history before and after being incarcerated.

Additional Information:

The case was mediated on May 28, 2009 before Sandy Gage, Esq. of Engage Mediation in Century City, California. In April 2009, Plaintiff demanded $500,000. Defendant made no offers prior to mediation.