A former inmate at a New Mexico detention center alleges in her New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit filed against individuals working for the New Mexico prison system that the failure to provide her with prompt and appropriate medical care while in custody caused her to develop endocarditis and heart problems that will last the 43-year-old’s lifetime.
In 2012, while the woman was on probation from a prior criminal conviction, she was charged with a probation violation after pleading guilty to a drug charge following her relapse due to her experiencing a sexual assault. The probation officer brought the woman to a rape crisis center in order to document the assault the woman had suffered eleven days earlier. The probation officer noticed at that time that the woman was short of breath, was coughing, and had a fever. The woman was subsequently processed into the New Mexico jail.
The woman claims in her New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit that she was provided only a cursory medical assessment when she was processed into the jail on October 17, 2012, after which she was placed in a cell along with two other inmates. She claims in her lawsuit that she was feverish when she was placed in the cell, causing her to lie on the floor of the cell in an attempt to cool down. Despite her cellmates’ attempts to have the woman seen by medical providers in the jail, she was not provided any health services until six days later, at which time no medical tests were performed and she was given Tylenol.
On October 24, 2012, the woman was unable to hold herself up and was having difficulty breathing. She was seen in the jail’s medical unit and transported from there to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with endocarditis caused by sepsis and she also was diagnosed with collapsed lungs. She had open heart surgery that she alleges will require that she be monitored for the remainder of her life. The woman alleges in her New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit that had she been timely diagnosed and provided appropriate earlier medical care, her heart damage would have been less severe.
The defendants removed the woman’s New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit from state court to federal court, where they claimed that they were immune from the woman’s New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and that the plaintiff was barred from bringing her claims due to her comparative negligence.
A federal judge denied summary judgment to the defendant corrections officer and denied partial summary judgment to the defendant nurse and defendant physician who claimed qualified immunity from being sued. However, the federal judge did dismiss the state constitutional claim against the defendant corrections officer and granted summary judgment to the defendant county commission. The individual defendants have requested that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals review the federal judge’s rulings.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm in New Mexico that may be due to medical negligence, you should promptly find a New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a New Mexico medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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