Colorado inmate who suffered stroke awarded $11 million by jury

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2014 10:12 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A federal jury has awarded $11 million to a Colorado jail inmate who was left permanently disabled after he said he was denied treatment for 16 hours after suffering a stroke, court documents showed on Tuesday.

Kenneth McGill, 46, alleged in a lawsuit that he sustained “major permanent disabilities” as a result of delayed medical treatment he received in 2012 while being held at the Jefferson County jail in suburban Denver.

Following a 10-day trial in U.S. District Court in Denver, jurors on Monday found the county’s contract healthcare provider, Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc, liable for his injuries.

According to the lawsuit, McGill was being held on misdemeanor alcohol-related driving offenses when he felt dizzy while working in the jail’s kitchen.

A nurse told McGill he was likely dehydrated and told him to drink water. But his symptoms worsened and he had difficulty moving the right side of his body, the complaint said.

Other inmates told deputies that McGill’s symptoms, including a droopy mouth and unsteadiness, “were so obvious that even lay people” recognized he was suffering a stroke, the lawsuit said.

McGill spent the night on the concrete floor of his cell, the lawsuit said, and when a physician finally diagnosed the stroke the next morning, it was still several hours before he was transported to a hospital.

“By the time Mr. McGill was brought to the hospital, it was far too late to reverse or even stem the damage from the stroke,” the lawsuit said.

Correctional Healthcare could not immediately be reached for comment, but the company in court filings denied the allegations.

McGill failed to cooperate with a nurse who examined him, the company said, and his injuries may have resulted from a “failure to follow reasonable medical advice and instructions.”

McGill’s lawyers said the stroke left him unable to work, and that he continued to suffer “serious emotional and physical harm” from his injuries, including partial paralysis and difficulty speaking.

More than $8.5 million of the judgment went to punitive damages. The rest was for medical expenses, future lost earnings and “impairment of his quality of life,” the verdict form read.

 

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)