Inmate Files Eighth Amendment Claim for Failure to Treat Illness; Court Seals Med. Records

The United States District Court of Nevada granted a motion Tuesday to seal the medical records of plaintiff Esteban Hernandez at the request of defendants Warden Jerry Howell, Dr. Romeo Aranas, and James Dzurenda after the plaintiff alleged he was not provided proper medical care by the defendants in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Hernandez, the plaintiff and an inmate in the Southern Desert Correctional Center (SDCC), alleged that the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) failed to regularly monitor his Hepatitis C and refused to treat his condition such that his condition continues to worsen.

Hernandez invoked the Eighth Amendment in the suit against Warden Jerry Howell, Dr. Romeo Aranas, and James Dzurenda, and filed a motion for an emergency injunction for the court to order the NDOC to offer treatment as soon as possible, which was denied. The defendants then filed a motion to seal the medical records of Hernandez.

The court granted this motion based on the compelling reasons standard; it found the “need to protect medical privacy” as a basis. In reference to the Eighth Amendment allegations by the plaintiff, the court said that “(w)hile a plaintiff puts certain aspects of his medical condition at issue when he files an action alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need under the Eighth Amendment, that does not mean that the entirety of his medical records filed in connection with a motion …  need be unnecessarily broadcast to the public” and that the public need not have access to the plaintiff’s medical records.