A former Tucson eye surgeon convicted of hiring a hit man to kill a business associate has filed a $750,000 claim against the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Bradley Schwartz has been beaten four times in the prison system, with the last one resulting in facial fractures, inoperable tear ducts and nasal damage, according to the notice of claim.

Schwartz's attorney, Brick Storts, said he had written a prison warden three letters before the final attack expressing concern for Schwartz's safety and asking for increased protection.

"In spite of this clear danger, the prison administration continued to place inmates with known histories of assaultive behavior where they had easy access to Dr. Schwartz," Storts wrote in his claim letter.

Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections, said it was the department's policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Schwartz, 44, was convicted in May 2006 of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Oct. 5, 2004, slaying of pediatric eye surgeon Dr. David Brian Stidham. Schwartz was sentenced to life in prison with release possible after 25 years.

On Sept. 27, Schwartz left a creative-writing class in the Rincon Unit of the Arizona State Prison complex in Tucson and was attacked on his way to a bathroom, Storts said.

Schwartz's eye sockets were broken along with other facial bones and he was flown to a Maricopa County hospital after a brief visit to St. Mary's Hospital, Storts said.

Schwartz spent several days in the intensive-care unit and underwent two plastic surgeries, Storts said.

At the time of the fourth attack, Storts said, "I think he's a target not only because he was a doctor, but because of the case and the fact inmates probably assume that he comes from a family of some means."

Schwartz has found himself the victim of intimidation and "shakedowns," Storts said.

"He isn't a particularly large man, but he's feisty," Storts said. "He's asserted his independence while he's been in there."

Schwartz has made an effort to ignore prison politics and some inmates may resent that, Storts said.

Prosecutors contend that Schwartz paid Ronald Bruce Bigger $10,000 for the slaying because he was angry that Stidham had abandoned their joint practice while Schwartz was in a drug-rehabilitation program.

Stidham ended up with many of Schwartz's patients after Schwartz was indicted on federal drug-fraud charges in September 2002 and Schwartz's medical license was temporarily suspended.

Bigger was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in a separate trial in May 2007. He is serving two life sentences without the possibility of release.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com.