ILNews

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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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