Medical defendants seek escape from incarcerated man's suit

David Yates Feb. 25, 2010, 2:11am

Jefferson County Correctional Facility

NaphCare, along with a local physician, is attempting to escape from a former incarcerated man's lawsuit.

As the Southeast Texas Record reported in September 2007, Ronnie Tejada received medical treatment while incarcerated and awaiting trial at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.

Medical services at the county jail are provided by NaphCare, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company that performs health, mental and dental care to inmates in more than 40 correctional facilities in 23 states.

Claiming his care was less than adequate, Tejada and his two minor children filed suit against Dr. Virgilio Gernale, NaphCare and NaphCare's administrator, Dyni Brookshire.

Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth was named as defendant later, but Tejada partially non-suited the hospital in January 2008. Brookshire was non-suited three months later.

The suit's remaining defendants, Naphcare and Dr. Gernale, have filed no-evidence motions for summary judgment.

A hearing on the matter has been slated for Feb. 25 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court.

Court records show that from November 2004 through Oct. 5, 2005, Tejada received treatment from the defendants.

Tejada's suit does not go into detail about his time at the jail, but does allege that the defendants negligently failed to treat his diabetes, diagnose a head injury or monitor his dehydrated and malnourished condition in the last 11 days before he was taken to the emergency room on Oct. 5, 2005.

However, according to NaphCare's motion Tejada hase "not produced even a scintilla of competent evidence" since filing his suit almost three years ago.

"A sufficient time has passed, since the filing of this suit, for discovery to take place," the motion states. "Yet plaintiffs have failed to produce competent evidence that a causal connection between the many alleged breaches of care and the injury exists."

Court documents show that Tejada is specifically blaming NaphCare for his leg amputations.

He is suing for punitive and exemplary damages, plus past and future physical pain, disfigurement, mental anguish, impairment, medical expenses and lost wages.

His children are suing for pecuniary loss, loss of counsel and loss off of positive benefits flowing from love provided by their father, plus mental anguish.

The plaintiffs are represented by Barbara Gardner, attorney for the Tucker, Vaughan, Gardner & Barnes law firm.
NaphCare is represented by Mehaffy Weber attorney Kathleen Kennedy.

Dr. Grenale is represented by attorney Charles Brown.

Case No. E180-269

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