Inmate Wins $1M Med Mal Verdict
The type and quality of health care provided to inmates has at times come under controversy. With states now outsourcing the medical care to private agencies that manage the hospital’s needs, it has created a bit of a blur between what constitutes a public or private tort.
Recently, a former Virginia prison inmate alleged that the prison medical staff bungled his complaint of a broken finger. According to the lawsuit, the inmate broke his finger in the recreation yard and he sought the help of the prison medical staff. The staff gave him an ice pack and a Motrin. According to the complaint, the inmate stated that prison medical staff ignored X-rays that showed that the finger had been broken and would require surgery. The state was contracting with a medical services provider known as Armor.
New York State Sues Armor After 12 Inmate Deaths
The State of New York sued that same agency that this particular inmate sued for the deaths of 12 inmates who were said to have received substandard care. Typically, an outside service provider like Armor will step in when the state believes it can reduce costs related to inmate care. The company reportedly guarantees lower costs and then attempts to circumvent the process of properly treating patients by providing substandard care in order to come in under-budget.
However, medical professionals who work in prisons owe the inmates the same standard and duty of care that any medical professional does. This is why lawsuits against inmate medical service providers, when they’re outsourced to private companies, are often successful.
In the case of New York, Armor took over in 2012 and within two months of the shift, two inmates had died in solitary confinement. One of the inmates died of hypertension and hypothermia while Armor was accused of erroneous prescription and patient abandonment in the other’s death. In 2015, Niagara County refused to renew Armor’s contract cutting ties with the company.
Here in Florida, there were several lawsuits related to the Volusia County corrections system targeting Armor for substandard care. Volusia County moved on from Corizon Health, which was similarly embroiled in numerous lawsuits. In one case, a 28-year-old woman died in her cell for untreated drug withdrawal symptoms.
Lawsuits Against Prison Contractors Largely Unsuccessful
The majority of lawsuits against prison contractors are unsuccessful with many of them filed by loved ones of the deceased or the inmates themselves. Lawyers seem unwilling to touch them, and there may be a financial incentive for not moving forward. In cases where a state contractor is sued, Florida can extend sovereign immunity to the contractor in these cases and jurors are generally indifferent to the needs of prisoners. In these cases, lawyers face an uphill battle when filing suit against a negligent prison.
Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Tampa, FL
If you’ve been injured by medical negligence, the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith can file a claim on your behalf. Talk to us today for a free consultation.