Former inmate files suit over medical care

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
A former Indiana Department of Correction inmate has filed a federal suit claiming that county jail staff and contracted medical personnel didn't give him proper medical care and contributed to his development of cancer while he was behind bars.

New Richmond resident Phillip Andrew Springer filed suit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis seeking damages against the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, correctional authorities, and contracted medical providers for "deliberate indifference" to his medical needs while he was incarcerated. As a result, the now 28-year-old is paralyzed, needs constant care from his parents, and may have a year to live, the lawsuit claims.

Named as defendants in the suit are Putnam County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Mark Frisbee, a correctional officer serving as a jail nurse, the jail physician, the Missouri company Correctional Medical Services that contracts with the state's DOC, and three medical personnel working for the company.

"This is one of the worst examples of negligence and deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs that I've seen in a very long time," said Indianapolis attorney Richard Waples, who is representing Springer. "Now, he will pay for their indifference with his life."

The case comes from Springer's arrest in April 2006 on alcohol-related charges that landed him in Montgomery County jail. The suit says that Springer moved between the Montgomery and Putnam jails and two state DOC facilities - one in Plainfield and one in Putnamville - during the next five months, but he was repeatedly denied medical care despite authorities' knowledge of his medical history. He'd had cancerous tumors removed from his lower spine following two surgeries in 2000, and doctors told him that any back pain he developed should be examined immediately because it could mean a recurrence of the cancer, according to the suit.

In his 11-page suit, Springer details how various county and state officials either ignored or delayed his and his parents' claims for medical examinations, and when he did receive them the medical personnel "ignored the gravity of the situation." As a result, Springer alleges that his condition worsened; he became partially paralyzed before finally being transported to the hospital for evaluation, where tests showed he had cancerous tumors on his upper spine and the cancer had spread to his brain.

The sentencing judge in Montgomery County, David Ault, intervened and released him from the state's custody in August 2007 to allow for radiation treatment.

Springer's suit claims the defendants participated in cruel and unusual punishment and denied him needed medical services.

"Defendants' actions and failures to act were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Springer's serious, life threatening medical needs," the suit says. "Defendants' actions and inactions have caused Mr. Springer tremendous pain and suffering and will result in his death."

Chief Judge David F. Hamilton has been assigned to the case, which plaintiffs have requested to be placed on an expedited timetable because of Springer's condition.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues