No one deserves to die locked in a cage while suffering a slow, excruciating death caused by an untreated medical problem and exacerbated by jail authorities’ indifference to that inmate’s desperate pleas for treatment. Yet, all too often, that’s exactly what happens to incarcerated people in Oregon and across the United States. Federal law says that, when this happens, the harm that that prisoner suffered may constitute a violation of their civil rights. If you have a loved one to whom this happened then, with the aid of the right Oregon jail medical neglect lawyer, the civil justice system may offer help for your family.
Back in November, Reason published a piece about the medical neglect occurring in Arizona’s jails. Reason, of course, is a publication grounded in the Libertarian political viewpoint, but one need not be a Libertarian for the November piece to resonate.
The stories divulged are depressingly similar. In the very first paragraph, the piece lists multiple examples, including a paraplegic man who was “left to deteriorate” to such an extreme extent that an amputation ultimately was necessary, a woman with multiple sclerosis whose MS was “ignored and misdiagnosed” so egregiously that she ended up nearly totally paralyzed, and a man whose “undiagnosed, untreated lung cancer” caused him to lose 90 pounds and ultimately die “slowly and agonizingly without any pain medication.”
The medical director of the Salt Lake County Jail System in Utah, who testified as an expert in a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections, described what he saw in Arizona as “offensive to him as a medical professional,” according to the Reason story.
Pancreatitis and a Perforated Intestine Allegedly Treated With Tylenol
The problem, though, is not limited to Arizona… far from it. Last May, the State of Washington paid a widow $3.25 million to settle a medical neglect lawsuit that arose from a jail death in Monroe, Wash. The Seattle Times reported that the inmate had undergone outpatient cancer surgery, but his abdominal incision wasn’t healing properly. It was puffy, tender, and oozing, according to the widow’s lawsuit. The man allegedly begged for treatment and reported “excruciating” levels of pain for 26 days. The only treatment he received was acetaminophen (Tylenol,) according to the lawsuit.
By the time the man finally arrived at an emergency room, it was too late. The inmate, it turned out, had a perforated intestine and pancreatitis. These, along with septic shock, led to the man’s demise on Aug. 27, 2018.
Last year, here in Oregon, an inmate neglect lawsuit alleged a very similar set of facts. According to a Salem Statesman Journal report, it started with an Oregon State Penitentiary inmate who reported experiencing intestinal problems. The man allegedly shed 50 pounds across three months. The prison’s failure to deliver treatment eventually led to the man’s developing a perforated bowel and gangrenous colon, according to the lawsuit. Allegedly, the medical harm from this nearly killed him and resulted in the man now requiring the assistance of a colostomy bag.
The Constitution gives all Americans certain rights. In the Eighth Amendment, the Constitution gives everyone the right to be free from cruel and unusual criminal punishment. In addition to including things like torture or excessively long sentences, that also covers things like being denied proper treatment for the medical problems you experience while incarcerated.
If that happens to you, then prison authorities may have violated your civil rights and you may have a very strong civil case under the federal law codified at 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. This law allows you to seek redress, and potentially recover compensation, for the deprivation of your rights.
These cases often require a highly in-depth knowledge of federal civil rights law, so don’t try to go it alone. The experienced Oregon jail medical neglect attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are ready to help anyone who has suffered (or whose loved one has suffered) catastrophic harm because they didn’t get the necessary medical care they deserved while incarcerated. For answers to the questions you may have about your situation, call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner we can get to work for you.