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Reynaldo Manila retains attorney William Fitzgerald

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REYNALDO A. Manila, an inmate serving a 60-year prison sentence for the death of an infant, has retained attorney William M. Fitzgerald to represent him in his lawsuit against the Department of Corrections and its officials.

Manila alleges that the “deliberate indifference” of Corrections and its officials caused the blindness in his left eye.

On Tuesday, Fitzgerald filed a motion in the District Court for the NMI for a status conference.

In his declaration, he said that on Dec. 3, 2019 he received from the court voluminous files consisting of more than 400 pages.

On Dec. 4, he said he met Manila who “requested that I represent him because his previous attorney [Steven Pixley] had withdrawn from representing him.”

On Dec. 6, 2019, Fitzgerald said Manila talked to Dr. Mark Robertson of the Marianas Eye Institute, and on Dec. 9, the lawyer discussed the case with Manila.

“Since I met with Mr. Manila, I had been faced with two brief writing deadlines and previously scheduled deposition that have prevented me from reading and digesting the voluminous Manila files,” Fitzgerald said.

He added that he has asked the defendants for new scheduling order, but was informed that they could not agree except to a short extension of fact and discovery. The defendants, he added, insisted on keeping the present scheduling order.

Fitzgerald told the court that he needed more time to prepare in order to provide Manila with adequate representation.

Fitzgerald is asking the court to hold a status conference to specifically discuss a revision of the scheduling order that would be fair to all parties.

Manila named then Corrections Commissioner Robert Guerrero and Corrections officials Jose K. Pangelinan and Georgia M. Cabrera as defendants in his lawsuit.

Manila alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. “They purposely delayed my medical treatment although they knew that further delay would lead to total irreversible blindness,” Manila added.

He further alleged that the defendants knew that he needed medical treatment — retinal surgery — “and yet they worked on a hearing for a commutation of his sentence so he could be deported…to the Philippines and [Corrections] would not have to provide him medical care.”

In January 2019, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed Corrections and its officials from the lawsuit, stating that “the Commonwealth and any official capacity defendants are immune from suit for damages under Section 1983,” which pertains to violations of federal rights committed by persons acting under color of state law.

Judge Manglona, however, allowed Manila to amend his lawsuit, and ordered him to provide more information on whether he is suing the officials in their individual capacities.

This is Manila’s third amended complaint against the Corrections officials.

He is serving a 60-year prison sentence for the death of his six-month-old goddaughter in Nov. 2000. A doctor testified that the baby was shaken “very hard,” consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

Manila was 39 when he was sentenced in June 2002.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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