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6 Prison Medical Malpractice Settlements

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

If inmates are denied adequate medical care, it is negligence and the inmate, or a loved one, can sue the government or a private contracted healthcare provider and medical professionals for medical negligence or wrongful death. Your medical malpractice attorney can advise you on a number of malpractice cases involving inmates, and explain when government employees are immune to prosecution, and who would be liable for negligent care in prison.

Special Protection in Prison

Inmates are not in a position to seek medical care or mental healthcare on their own, as they are incarcerated. Being confined to prison, however, does not mean that you lose your civil rights or that you should receive substandard medical care.

Several states have enacted statures to protect prisoners from indifferent medical care, and the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and inhuman punishment. Constitutional violations, such as deliberate indifference to the medical needs of prisoners, have been interpreted in case law as unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. In other cases, civil rights issues provided protection.

Some states require an administrative complaint to be filed before you can file a medical malpractice case in state court, and the law and procedures vary by state. Your medical malpractice lawyer can assist you with the applicable state laws.

Not all bad outcomes are negligence cases, and even prisoners need to comply with the rules of evidence and the four components required for any medical malpractice case, which falls under negligence in civil law. The evidence includes, and must be compelling, duty of care, breach of that duty, direct causality due to that breach and the actual harm caused to the patient must be monetized.

Typical Issues with Healthcare in Prisons

Indifferent care or medical malpractice may include:

  • Failure to provide emergency care
  • Negligent care for injuries or illnesses
  • Deliberately withholding care that was ordered
  • No care during withdrawal from substance abuse
  • Failure to provide pain medication
  • Medical abuse
  • Failure to provide mental healthcare
  • Negligence in protecting suicidal inmates

Standards for Medical Care in Prisons

Standards and protocols to address the need for appropriate healthcare in prisons or correctional facilities cover clinical care, safety and emergency procedures and treatment protocols. These standards have been provided by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, The American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Correctional Association.

Contracted Healthcare Providers may have their own policies and procedures; however, contracts should include applicable standards of care based on the provided standards and policies. Failure to adhere to these standards constitute negligence.

Prison Medical Malpractice Cases

Prisoners find it difficult to get medical malpractice lawyers to take their cases due to the complexities of these cases; however, there are many lawsuits filed daily on behalf of prisoners. Here are a few examples of these cases:

1. Wayne World vs. State of Connecticut

UConn Health was contracted in a no-bid, $100 million contract to provide care to prisoners, and several cases have been filed for indifferent or negligent care against the State, as well as several wrongful death suits. Examiners in the last audit were critical of the lack of oversight, quality controls and performance benchmarks. The agreement ended last year, and the DOC hired staff to handle inmate medical care. An independent consultant was hired to review cases, and they found that collectively they evinced “medical indifference.”

However, the State decided to settle in the case of Wayne World (39), paying $1.3 million. Wayne’s subcutaneous lymphoma was treated as psoriasis for the most of three years. His mother testified that he was wrapped up like a mummy in gauze, but that it took three years to find a correct diagnosis. He was granted medical parole and released early from his 17-year sentence for manslaughter.

2.-6. State of Georgia Settlements Top $3 million

Five lawsuits against the State of Georgia, alleging negligence and deliberate indifference on the part of two doctors in their employ at the time, Dr. Yvon Nazaire and Dr. Chiquita Fye, have resulted in settlements over $3 million. More cases are pending, and the settlement bill is expected to go up substantially. Georgia Correctional Healthcare is contracted to provide care to prisoners.

It is alleged that Nazaire was disciplined previously due to failure to care for emergency patients in New York properly, yet, even so, the correctional services hired him. He worked at a women’s prison for nine years before being fired. Investigations found this to be the case for one in five doctors employed in the service.

One of the cases involves the death of Bonnie Rocheleau from complications of pneumonia. Another prisoner, Mollianne Fischer ended up in a vegetative state due to failure to recognize several medical issues. Kimery Finger died from complications of diabetes as they failed to treat an infected cut that resulted in her leg being amputated. Finger died after leaving the system.

Fye’s cases involve Michael Tarver, a diabetic, who lost his leg due to failure to treat a cut and William Stoner, who was cut off from his anti-anxiety drugs and placed in lock-down, where he suffered a seizure.

A previous employee, Dr. Timothy Young, became a very outspoken critic of the Georgia correctional healthcare policies and has filed a whistleblower case. Georgia traditionally has been one of the most underfunded correctional systems in the country and even with recent increases in funding remains below par.

Where can I Find the Best Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Michigan?

Prison cases are complicated, due to the state laws and requirements, having to determine who can be sued under which protections, as well as the records required to prove your case and the difficulty involved in obtaining these, so it is best to consult with the best medical malpractice lawyer in Michigan to assist you.

If you live in Michigan and have been searching for a medical malpractice lawyer near me so you can file a medical malpractice case involving a prisoner, call Eileen Kroll, a registered nurse and medical malpractice trial attorney, at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C, at 866-MICH-LAW. The statute of limitations is three years, so do not miss your opportunity to file with a medical malpractice lawyer in Grand Rapids. Our law firm never charges a fee unless we win your case.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Nikole has a special interest in medical-legal issues and holds post-basic degrees in medical law and business. She has developed quality improvement and safety plans for many practices and facilities to prevent medical-legal issues and teaches several courses on data protection and privacy, legal, medical examinations and documentation, and professional ethics. She has been writing professionally on legal, business, ethics, patient advocacy, research and medico-legal issues in articles, white papers, business plans, and training courses for over thirty-five years.



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