California Civil Rights Lawyers
Denial of Medical
Care to An Inmate or Pre-Trial Detainee
When it comes to medical care, inmates
and detainees in our jails are the most vulnerable. Inmates and pre-trial
detainees cannot provide for their own medical care. Realistically, they
are totally dependent on the jail/prison for their care. Simplistically,
inmates/detainees cannot self-treat. They cannot change their diet, nor
purchase basic remedies such as aspirin or Tylenol. More significantly,
they cannot choose a doctor, nor obtain antibiotics on their own. Without
the assistance of the jailers, and/or prison medical staff, inmates cannot
go to the emergency room of a local hospital.
Where jails deprive medical care to inmates/pre-trial
detainees, the state is capable of inflicting punishment far greater than
incarceration itself. Accordingly, constitutional restraint offers some
protection to inmates and pre-trial detainees.
With a strong medical background, the
Scarlett Law Group's is a formable
ally to inmates/pre-trial detainees who have been wrongfully deprived
of medical care. Not surprisingly, numerous inmates suffer the consequences
of traumatic brain injury. This condition, if overlooked, can lead to
tragic and often fatal results.
Unfortunately, the Scarlett Law Group's is highly selective of cases accepted
in this area due to the significant time and resources required. Cases
involving serious and catastrophic harm, including wrongful death are
carefully analyzed. From these, a select number are accepted, and momentum
(a) Legal Basis for
In Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976),
the United Supreme Court announced that deliberate indifference to the
serious medical needs of a convicted prisoner violates the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and gives rise to a
cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Pre-trial detainees are
afforded the same rights under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process
The Court held in Estelle:
"We therefore conclude that deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the 'unnecessary
and wanton infliction of pain', proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.
This is true whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors
and their response to the prisoner's needs or by prison guards in intentionally
denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering
with the treatment once prescribed.
Regardless of how evidenced, deliberate
indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury states a cause
of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983."
In Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979),
the Court applied the same reasoning to pre-trial detainees. A pre-trial
detainee has a due process right to be free from punishment all together.
(McQuarter v. City of Atlanta, 572 F.Supp. 1401 (N.D. Ga. 1983).)
Not every case of denial of medical care
gives rise to a claim. In fact, the "deliberate indifference"
federal standard is much more difficult to establish than state claims,
which in many instances, require only that the inmate/pre-trial detainee
establish negligence on the part of the treaters in order to prevail.
While fact patterns vary, the following
case example is illustrative of the tragic consequences that can result
where a jail provides inappropriate medical screening and monitoring for
its inmate/pre-trial detainees:
On his 32nd birthday, Mr. H was in route
to his mother's house for breakfast. Along the way, Mr. H was apparently
attacked, his wallet stolen, the attack leaving him with a closed head
injury. Unbeknownst to Mr. H, the blow to his head resulted in an internal
bleed, causing pressure to build in his crania.
Following the attack on Mr. H, and
due to his appearance and behavior, the police were called by the proprietors
of a local business. Rather than provide Mr. H the medical treatment
he so desperately needed, the police officers transported Mr. H to a
Mr. H was handcuffed, restrained with
leg irons, and thrown into a cell. Having been afforded no medical treatment,
nor medical screen, Mr. H died twelve hours later as a result of complications
from his closed head injuries.
The Scarlett Law Group's representation of individuals in this practice
area is not limited to those cases involving improper medical screening.
An unfortunate, yet common, factual scenario
involves the failure of jail medical personnel to diagnose and treat infection,
and other life threatening conditions. Often, this occurs after the initial
medical screen. The failure to provide remedial or corrective care to
ongoing medical needs can result in a death sentence to the inmate/detainee.
Dedicated to the principle that all individuals
are deserving of appropriate medical care and treatment, the Scarlett
Law Group may be of assistance to you, when you, or someone you know,
needs it most.
Read a letter of apology written by the city of North Las Vegas
If you or someone you know is a victim
of a Civil Rights violation,
you need the assistance of The Scarlett Law Group.
today to speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney.