Yes, even convicted criminals have rights. Including the right to bring a New York personal injury or medical malpractice claim. An inmate has a right to competent medical care while under the custody of the prison authorities. If the prison medical team screws up, and causes him harm, he can sue for compensation. At Michaels & Smolak we get letters from inmates at the Auburn State maximum security prison (just around the corner from our main office!) all the time. We reject 99% of those cases either because there was no real malpractice, or because the injuries are too minor to bother with a lawsuit against the State. But every once in a while an inmate has a legitimate claim for real serious injuries.
Case in point: In Black v. State of New York, a prison doctor, after examining an inmate complaining of cervical neck pain, and after reviewing an MRI, correctly concluded he was suffering from “spinal stenosis“, a condition in which the narrowing of the spinal canal exerts pressure on the spinal cord, and myelomalacia, a softening of the spinal cord. The physician correctly noted the condition was serious and even dangerous, and justified an expert consultation, but did not realize that it required immediate emergency surgery to prevent paralysis. While awaiting approval for a neurological consultation, the inmate re-injured his cervical spine when he fell in his prison cell. The inmate ended up paralyzed from the chest down. Timely surgery would have prevented this from happening.
The Appellate Division, Fourth Department (Rochester, NY appellate court) recently upheld the Court of Claims’ $15 Million medical malpractice verdict on behalf of the estate of the now deceased inmate.
Think the inmate made out like a bandit? Think again: He served his full sentence until he was paroled, and then died four days after he finally tasted “freedom”, at age 41. Four days to enjoy his $15 Million. Paralyzed from the chest down. Doesn’t sound like fun to me.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.