Seven county jail inmates filed suit earlier this month in federal court, alleging the sheriff’s office, and former jail physician Dr. Stephen Miniat, deprived them of needed medical care.
The suit was filed Aug. 15 in Florida Northern District Court by attorneys from the Tallahassee law firm of Marie A. Mattox on behalf of Jason T. Wilson, Derek Strevel, Allen O’Neal, Michael Quinn, Sam Revell, Anthony Sanders and James West.
The suit was filed in federal court because the inmates are asserting claims under the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment, and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizens equal protection under the law. They also assert allege the damages to the plaintiffs are in excess of $75,000, the minimum threshold required to sue.
The suit alleges a series of medical issues took place at the county jail between Oct. 2010 and Dec. 2011, and were addressed by Miniat, who was under contract to provide medical services to the sheriff’s office, which at the time was headed by Sheriff Skip Shiver. Mock, who was elected in Aug. 2012, is being sued since he is Shiver’s successor as operator of the county jail on Highway 65.
According to the suit, “at least one inmate has died and several others injured due to the deliberate indifference and negligence of jail staff and medical staff.”
None of the seven plaintiffs has died, but the suit references another case, that of Dale Bedell, who it says died while incarcerated at the jail on June 19, 2011. The suit says Bedell’s estate has filed a separate lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.
The earliest allegation of inadequate medical care dates back to Oct. 12, 2010, when Quinn is said to have tripped over extension cords and fallen on the jail’s concrete floor, injuring his wrist and hip, and re-injuring his back.
Quinn “was unable to stand up, and no guards assisted him. He lay on the floor for approximately 45 minutes before someone helped him to his bed. He requested medical treatment for these injuries and they were all ignored and/or denied,” reads the lawsuit. “(He) continues to have pain due to these injuries.”
The next instance referenced was that of Anthony Sanders, who the suit says “has HIV/AIDS, (and) suffers from seizures on a regular basis. While an inmate, Plaintiff had his medication changed by the medical staff at the jail. The change in medication caused him to have seizures.”
The suit says medical staff did not provide adequate medical care, and that inmates requested he be evacuated for medical care. “In fact, staff was told not to call the ambulance because (Sanders) ‘does this all the time and there is nothing that can be done.’”
The suit alleges “no one in the medical staff or in authority at the jail responded for hours, and only after a threat of a riot was Mr. Sanders evacuated to a nearby medical facility for treatment.” It says the dates of these incidents include all incarcerations between Feb. 8 and Dec. 21, 2011 at the jail.
Four of the plaintiffs describe incidents in July 2011.
O’Neal was transferred from the Leon County Jail to Franklin County around July 1, 2011. He is described in the suit as “diabetic and bi-polar,” and says that it took two weeks for the medical staff to provide him his medication for his bi-polar condition.
“The entire time that (O’Neal) was in the Franklin County Jail, he did not receive his medication for diabetes and he was not furnished a diabetic/low carbohydrate die,” reads the suit, adding that as a result, he “has suffered diminished sight capacity.”
Wilson’s claim dates back to July 14, 2011, when he says he slipped and fell in the bathroom due to a leaking toilet. He says he hit his head on a sink, then landed on his right shoulder, and was seen by jail medical staff and sent to Weems Memorial Hospital for evaluation.
After he was released from the hospital, Wilson says in the suit he informed Nurse Kandice Henry that his arm was turning purple, was given ibuprofen and told his x-rays were fine. “(Wilson) informed (Henry) that no x-rays had been taken at the hospital but no further treatment was given and (he) remained in constant pain,” reads the suit.
It goes on to say that one week later, Wilson “slammed his middle finger in a door which caused his finger to be punctured to the bone. Dr. Miniat put glue on the wound to close it temporarily. The glue did not hold the wound properly and (Wilson’s) finger began to bleed.”
The suit claims Henry informed Miniat of the situation, and that Wilson was told Miniat would be in later to sew up the wound. “He never did and the delay in treatment resulted in severe pain to Wilson,” reads the suit.
On July 16, 2011, the suit claims Strevel slipped and fell in the jail bathroom due to a toilet that had been leaking for two months. It said he hit his head on a steel sink and sustained a shoulder injury, and that “although he was seen by medical staff at the jail, Mr. Strevel… was not administered any non-prescription pain medication to alleviate his pain despite his requests for same.”
In the case of West, it says that prior to becoming an inmate in July 2011, he had several serious medical conditions, including high blood pressure and migraine headaches, and suffered a stroke in or around 2006.
The suit alleges West asked several times to see a doctor and was refused, and that he remained at the jail for about six weeks prior to receiving “any medical treatment for these serious conditions which resulted in continuous pain.”
The last incident described took place around Aug. 29, and involved Revell, who it says suffers from kidney problems, depression, pain, and bladder infections.
“The medical staff at Franklin County Jail denied medications and/or treatment for Mr. Revell’s medical problems which caused him to suffer unnecessary mental, emotional and physical pain over an extended period of time,” reads the suit.
For the actions related to these seven inmates, the suit is seeking damages “including, but not limited to, medical and other expenses, lost wages, lost capacity to work, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and related non-economic damages.” It also asks that the defendants should be made to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees.