Two months ago I discussed common claim types in correctional medicine and cited a specific example. Since then I have been asked for more examples so our agents can use them as a selling tool. Here are a few in addition to the August example that are a good representation of the types of claims in correctional medical. All of these claims involved some breach of care and medical malpractice.
2008 – Represented plaintiff filed suit against insured & city, alleging failure to treat a ruptured right patellar (knee) tendon on 8/18/05, resulting in permanent immobility. Breach of Contract; Negligence; Civil Rights & Punitive damages.
2002 – Fatal overdose of morphine resulted in death.
2007 – Failure to diagnose and treat throat cancer resulting in pain and suffering; surgery to remove cancer; loss of voice.
2009 – Failure to properly diagnose and treat malignant tumor resulting in extensive surgery.
2007 – Failure to treat retinal detachment from a fight in the facility resulted in blindness.
2007 – Failure to diagnose peritonitis, perforation of duodenal ulcer resulting in death.
2009 – I. 14th Amendment; II. 8th Amendment; III. Negligence & Gross Negligence; IV. Wrongful Death; V. Special Relationship Doctrine; VI. Policy, Procedures, Practices & Customs; VII. Lack of Proper Training.
2007 – Failure to diagnose cervical cancer.
2009 – Wrongful death claim notice from claimant attorney and request for medical records. Represented estate filed negligence, Wrongful Death & Survival Action lawsuit related to inmate’s peritonitis death on 10/11/07.
2008 – Represented plaintiff filed suit in state court alleging insured and other defendants misdiagnosed his chronic endocarditic as pancreatitis while at facility.
2007 – Represented inmate alleges insured failed to provide timely competent medical treatment to him after he was attacked and raped in his cell, a violation of his civil rights; resulting in pain & suffering, mental anguish, humiliation, etc.
2008 – City tendered their defense and indemnity to insured for suit filed by represented estate of claimant related to his 3/15/08 suicide at the DOC, after 8 days in custody. Insured OK’d transfer from one facility to the other without noting mental issue.
2008 – Failure to properly treat post-surgery gun-shot wounds. Failure to provide pain medication resulting in pain and suffering. 1983 Civil Rights Violations Under 8Th and 14Th Amendments & Negligence.
Roughly 60% of claims in the correctional setting are filed on a pro-se basis by the inmate, meaning they have no attorney representation. Virtually all of these claims are frivolous suits. I actually heard about one pro-se case where the inmate submitted it written on a roll of toilet paper and the judge sent it back making the inmate redo it on notebook paper. Most correctional medical providers will seek to get these claims closed out with no payment by filing a dispositive motion with the court. If they can get this done it prevents the inmate from going back to the cell block and telling inmates 2 through 20 how to “get their $500.”
For the cases that have actual medical negligence like the above, the claimant will usually name every party associated with them all the way down to the janitor. Most cases will also allege deliberate indifference/civil rights violations and punitive damages if they are allowed in the jurisdiction. It is important that the providers’ insurance program addresses all of these issues, has proper limits according to the contract with the governmental entity and addresses all of the indemnification agreements in the contract.