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$400,000 Jury Award in Illinois Ruptured Appendix Suit

In April, 2002, a federal jury in East St. Louis, Illinois, awarded $400,000 in damages to former prisoner David Sherrod, finding that Illinois Department of Corrections medical staff had shown deliberate indifference to his medical needs by failing to treat a ruptured appendix. In March, 1995, Sherrod was at the Big Muddy Correctional Center in Ina, Illinois serving a sixteen year sentence for aggravated criminal sexual assault. He developed severe abdominal pain as a result of a ruptured appendix but was not diagnosed or treated for over two weeks. By the time he was diagnosed and treated, Sherrod had developed intestinal gangrene that required removal of part of his colon.

In 1997, shortly after being released from prison, Sherrod filed suit. Initially the district court dismissed the suit by granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court also excluded Sherrod's expert witness reports as a sanction for Sherrod failing to disclose the reports as required by FRCP 26 and also granted summary judgment to the defendants. The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held the sanction was excessive and summary judgment was inappropriate. The court reversed and remanded the case for trial. See: Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2000) [PLN, Oct. 2001].

On remand, a trial was held before U.S. magistrate judge Gerald Cohn that started on April 15, 2002. Ultimately, the jury found prison doctor C.P. Ramaswamy liable for $250,000 for medical malpractice; $100,000 for denial of medical care and assessed $50,000 in punitive damages. The nurse defendants were dropped from the suit by Sherrod's attorney and the jury absolved one doctor of liability in the case.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

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Related legal case

Sherrod v. Lingle