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CMS Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $75,000

In 1998 Correctional Medical services (CMS) and the estate of Mark Murphy settled a wrongful death suit for $75,000. CMS is the largest provider of privatized medical care to prisoners and jail detainees.

Mark Murphy was imprisoned at the Delaware Correctional Center (DCC) in Smyrna, Delaware. In June, 1992, Murphy repeatedly sought medical care from CMS doctor Harold Laggner to treat abdominal pain and urine in his blood. After almost a year, Jason Walther, a contract physician for CMS, diagnosed Murphy with painless hematuria and recommended further tests. A series of tests were then inexplicably cancelled. Murphy was not tested until August, 1993, at which time he was diagnosed with liver cancer. On April 4, 1994, Murphy died of cancer.

Murphy's estate sued CMS and Walther for medical negligence in his death. The case was settled for $25,000 from Walther, the urologist, and $50,000 from CMS.

Bruce Hudson, the Delaware attorney who represented the Murphy estate, told PLN that an expert witness had testified that if Murphy had received an earlier diagnosis he could have been treated and had a normal life expectancy. "In summary, because of the negligence of both CMS and the specialist [Walther], Mr. Murphy lost his life. The tragedy is, of course, that there was no freedom of choice regarding the selection of health care providers. Once he was referred to the urologist outside of the prison CMS had a duty to monitor his progress, which they totally failed to do. CMS took the position that once he was referred to the specialist he was no longer the patient of CMS doctors." Readers should note this is an unpublished settlement. See: Murphy v. CMS, New Castle County Superior Court, DE. Case No. 95C-07-148SCD.

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Related legal case

Murphy v. Correctional Medical Services