UPDATE (1:25 p.m. PT) - A former inmate filing a federal lawsuit says he badly injured his one good leg in an Oregon prison after the state Department of Corrections failed to supply a proper prosthetic for his amputated leg.
David Brown, who was incarcerated at Deer Ridge Correctional Facility in Madras, Oregon, said in a lawsuit filed this week that the DOC failed to fix a prosthetic on his left leg that broke while he was housed in the Multnomah County Jail.
The Department of Corrections documented the broken prosthetic in the spring of 2017 when Brown entered the prisons system at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, where intake is done for all state prisons.
“On May 27, 2017, a medical practitioner noted that plaintiff’s prosthetic will not lock,” Brown’s attorney Lynn Walsh wrote in the lawsuit.
“The practitioner stated that plaintiff would have to wait until he got to his next facility before his prosthetic could be dealt with. Meanwhile, plaintiff was forced to walk using the broken prosthetic.”
The lawsuit raises concerns about how the Oregon Department of Corrections complies with aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also raises questions about whether the prison’s medical system violated Brown’s civil rights.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said the agency takes the health and well-being of incarcerated adults seriously, but can’t comment on pending litigation.
Brown was transferred to the Deer Ridge facility on June 13, 2017, where he was assigned a kitchen job that required him to stand and walk for long periods of time. Medical practitioners noted the prosthetic didn’t latch, which caused Brown to slip when he walked, the lawsuit states. At the time, Brown also suffered from phantom pain from the amputation.
Dr. Timothy Kelly, the medical director at Deer Ridge, ordered Brown a cane for several weeks and increased medication to address the phantom pain, according to the lawsuit.
Kelly “failed to take any action regarding the broken prosthetic,” the suit alleges. Instead, he told Brown that “he would have to ‘self manage/purchase’ a prosthetic.”
Brown requested a new job in the prison, which was ignored, according to his attorney.
“On July 4, 2017, the inevitable happened, and Mr. Brown slipped and fell while working in the kitchen, severely injuring his right knee (on the leg that is not amputated),” the lawsuit states.
The medical records are “so sloppy” it’s difficult to determine how the prison responded to Brown’s injured knee. “For example, there are no physician orders between October 11, 2017 and March 1, 2018,” according to the lawsuit.
Months later, the prison system’s Therapeutic Level of Care Committee approved a repair for the prosthetic.
“Unfortunately, repair was not an option,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Brown needed a new prosthetic.”
Brown was finally fit for a new prosthetic in January 2018 and had surgery on his injured knee the next month, some eight months after the accident. He incurred $49,525.01 in medical bills for an eight day hospital stay, according to the lawsuit. The prison’s medical records don’t state why it took months for the knee surgery and new prosthetic.
“During that time, Mr. Brown had to use either a cane or a wheelchair to ambulate, and he suffered significant pain,” Walsh writes in the lawsuit.
Walsh argues that since the Department of Corrections gets federal money and is a public entity, it must follow the ADA.
“Mr. Brown’s need for accommodation was well documented in the medical file,” the lawsuit states. “The Oregon Department of Corrections personnel was deliberately indifferent in failing to provide Mr. Brown with reasonable accommodations and other services related to his disabilities.”
The lawsuit also raises questions about how Kelly, the medical director for Deer Ridge, treated Brown. Walsh argues Brown’s constitutional rights were violated.
“As a result of the Dr. Kelly’s deliberate indifference, he violated Mr. Brown’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Walsh writes.
Brown is suing for medical costs, attorneys fees and other damages.