Injury and neglect while in custody in the Los Angeles County men's jail...
(Granada Hils, CA)
I complained for months (through complaints forms, verbally to numerous staff members, and through documented clinic visits) that my muscles were locking up and resulting in me falling constantly and not being able to walk right. I was constantly being ignored and/or being told by medical staff that nothing is wrong and/or I will eventually see a doctor.
Once I saw a doctor several months later, she did not get to the bottom of the problem. She had said I was just probably having back problems and to drink more water. The falls continued to a point where I could not walk anymore. I was pretty much paralyzed.
Inmates were pushing and dragging me around in our dorm in order for me to get to the restroom. They medical staff was aware of my condition, but did not move me to a part of the jail that can accommodate people that are handicapped or have disabilities, instead they left me in there like an animal.
I was told by another doctor there, that she believed my muscles were locking up from the medication that I was being given. She immediately stopped the medication and ordered a benadryl shot to reset my muscles. The shot did seem like it stopped my muscles from locking up any further, but it did not make it so I could walk again. And this should be documented through computer records.
The following week after all of this, the Doctor (Dr Smith) finally sent me in an ambulance to USC County General Hospital. I stayed there for 2 1/2 weeks after a few hours of tests that showed my C5, C6, C7 had trauma to it and I had to have emergency spinal fusion surgery. The surgery lasted 7-8 hours.
The neurosurgeons told me that if I did't get it done immediately, I would probably never walk again and would remain paralyzed. The surgery took place on 06/24/2016. I first started complaining that I felt weak in January 2016 through complaints forms (which I still have the copies).
In early March 2016 I had one of the first real bad falls in the shower where I hit my head and the side of my ribs on a metal bench. Later on through x-rays I found out that I had broken my ribs, which they did nothing about, even though I told them that I was in extreme pain. I was finally given over-the-counter pain medication.
They would not order x-rays, because I was told the doctor did not want to authorize the expense of an x-ray and it would show liability. Later on through being "nice", another doctor did order one on my left side only, but it showed I had recently broken my ribs.
I still use a walker and cane with a clavicle collar I have numbness, tingling sensations throughout my legs and loss of feeling due to the trauma that was caused on my spinal cord. According to different doctors, I will probably experience this for the next year to two and maybe the rest of my life.
I can walk now, but I have difficulty doing so and it get very painful and frustrating, not to mention other adversities from this whole incident. When I went into the jail on 11/13/2015 I had never had a problem with my spine, legs or me walking. They did an examination during processing.
I want to sue them for as much as I can possibly get. Not just for them basically ignoring me and it escalating to this, but for all the pain and suffering I've gone through and will still have to go through. I own a termite company and I can't engage in it as I did before this happened.
How am I suppose to support me and my family now? I believe they need to try and fix this horrible situation with financial reimbursement. How do I find an attorney and take legal action against them? How can I get compensation for my medical conditions? Thank you for any helpful information you can provide.
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ANSWER for "Injury and neglect while in custody in the Los Angeles County men's jail...":
Lanty (Granada Hills, CA):
Unfortunately, while your pain and suffering is real, there is no evidence your physical maladies were caused by the entity in which you were incarcerated. Moreover, there is no proof the delay in having your spinal fusion was in any way caused by the prison, county, or city jail in which you were incarcerated.
The California prison system operates under the umbrella of Sovereign Immunity. This means California penal institutions, including California State Prisons, County jails, and City jails, and the employees who work for them, are for the most part protected from lawsuits from inmates.
Sovereign immunity is important, especially when involving police, sheriffs, highway patrol, and correctional officers. Here's an example...
Scenario 1 - A police officer comes upon a crime in progress. She sees a person being severely beaten by two other persons. The officer immediately intervenes, arresting the perpetrators and saving the life of the person being beaten.
Scenario 2 - A police officer comes upon a crime in progress. She sees a person being beaten by two other persons. The officer hesitates, worrying if she intervenes she may be sued by the perpetrators for wrongful arrest, or excessive force. So the officer hesitates, and the perpetrators continue to beat the victim, eventually killing him. Worse, when the officer hesitated, the perpetrators pulled out their own guns and shot the officer.
There are cases where sovereign immunity can be "pierced" and the government agency can either agree to be sued, or be sued without their consent. In matters involving inmates, sovereign immunity can be pierced when there is proof the government agency or its employees acted in a wanton or malicious manner toward an inmate, or their actions or omissions were grossly negligent.
From the facts you present, to succeed in an injury claim against the California penal system will require you to prove wanton or malicious behavior, or actions or omissions which constituted gross negligence. Whether or not these factors existed may well be up to the courts to decide.
For more information of State Sovereign Immunity read:
State Sovereign Immunity and Tort Liability (NCSL)
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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