Former inmate files suit over medical care

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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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.

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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.