Earlier this month, after three hours of jury deliberations in federal court in Ohio, the eight-person federal jury awarded a former Ohio prison inmate $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages after the State of Ohio failed to timely file an answer to the inmate’s Ohio prison medical malpractice complaint, and the federal judge struck the late-filed answer.
The plaintiff, who is now 59-years-old, was serving a five-year prison sentence for felony domestic violence committed on his wife when he was misdiagnosed in 2006 by the prison doctor with regard to an appendicitis. The delay in diagnosis led to an emergency appendectomy, after which he suffered nerve damage and disfigurement due to the surgery.
One of the treating physicians at the hospital where the plaintiff underwent surgery prescribed Neurontin to treat the plaintiff’s severe nerve pain. The prison doctor refused to provide the plaintiff with Neurontin upon his return to prison, and instead provided him with Motrin. Despite the hospital physician’s repeated efforts to have the plaintiff take Neurontin to treat his nerve pain, the prison doctor refused and continued to provide the plaintiff with Motrin, which was ineffective in treating his severe pain.
The prison doctor alleged that her refusal to provide Neurontin to the plaintiff was based on her concern that Neurontin would lead to heart damage in the plaintiff, even though extended use of Motrin can also lead to heart damage. The plaintiff alleged that he remained in severe pain while incarcerated until his release from prison in 2009.
The plaintiff had filed his federal prison medical malpractice lawsuit on his own behalf and without the assistance of a lawyer. The State of Ohio had moved to have the federal lawsuit dismissed, which a federal magistrate refused to do in 2009. The State of Ohio then had 30 days to file an answer to the plaintiff’s federal medical malpractice complaint but inexplicably failed to do so, until July 2013. The plaintiff retained attorneys to represent him in his federal lawsuit in 2011.
At the beginning of the trial, the federal judge accepted the factual allegations contained in the plaintiff’s federal complaint as true and therefore the plaintiff only needed to provide the federal medical malpractice jury with testimony and evidence to prove the injuries and damages he allegedly sustained as a result of the prison doctor’s medical negligence. The federal jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff on September 14, 2016.
If you or a loved one were injured due to medical neglect or the lack of appropriate medical care while incarcerated in a prison, jail, or other correctional facility in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who handles prisoner/inmate medical malpractice claims and may investigate your claim and represent you, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with prisoner rights lawyers in your state who may assist you.
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