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Man loses eyeball after jail assault, sues doctors, county, others

By Gheni_Platenburg
March 19, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2012 at 10:19 p.m.


After losing his eyeball, a former Victoria County inmate is suing for damages.

Inmate Isaac Rojas filed a lawsuit in federal court in early February against Dr. Penny Thamwiwat and physician's assistant Nancy Coppernoll, both employed at Citizens Medical Center.

Also named in the suit are Citizens Medical Center, Victoria County and Victoria County jailers Janie Santos, Jametre King, Chris Hinojosa Howard Stufflebean, Clayton Storeburner and Bart Hernandez.

Rojas accuses the defendants of deliberate indifference, violating his civil rights.

"We deny the allegations that he received inadequate medical care," said Charles Frigerio, attorney for Victoria County and the jailers. "We affirmatively state that he received proper medical care."

Kevin Cullen, attorney for Citizens Medical Center and the two medical providers, also denied the claims.

"We provided appropriate treatment and appropriate testing and instructed him to return if he had any problems or his condition worsened," said Cullen. "We specifically deny that we acted with deliberate indifference."

"We look forward to proving our case and are confident we will be exonerated."

Meanwhile, Shannon Spree, spokeswoman for Citizens Medical Center, declined to comment on the case.

In late February, Frigerio's clients filed a formal response denying all the claims against them.

In February 2010, Rojas, who was 62 at the time, was an inmate at the Victoria County Jail.

He was booked on Oct. 28, 2009, for violating probation in a possession of a controlled substance less than one gram case.

On Feb. 7, 2010, he was assaulted by another inmate, leaving his left eye blackened and swollen shut.

He was transferred to Citizens Medical Center's emergency room.

He claims the doctor and physician assistant did not properly care for him while at the hospital.

Rojas was sent back to the jail later that day with his lacerated eye and without an ophthalmologist referral.

Upon his return to the jail, Rojas was placed in solitary confinement with no direct access to medical care, according to the lawsuit.

After his transfer Feb. 13 to a jail in San Antonio, Rojas was seen by a doctor and subsequently referred to an ophthalmologist.

Rojas had lost the vision in his left eye and needed to undergo surgery to remove the eyeball to prevent additional harm, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages, attorney fees and all other costs.

Jeff Edwards, Rojas' attorney, declined to comment.

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