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EMSA and Nevada Jail Pay $40,000 Settlement to Quadriplegic

In April, 2002, Robert Cornwall, 30, a quadriplegic, settled a lawsuit against the Washoe county jail in Nevada for $40,000. The lawsuit stemmed from Cornwall being arrested on domestic violence charges against his wife on July 25, 2000. Cornwall spent the night in the Washoe county jail. Cornwall has limited use of his arms but not his hands or legs. While in the jail Cornwall showered and jail guard Matthew Ong used a plastic chair to move Cornwall from the shower back to his cell in the jail infirmary. While moving him, Cornwall fell out of the chair and then fell again when Ong dropped him while trying to get him back into the chair. Cornwall suffered minor injuries as a result of the two falls.

Cornwall filed a lawsuit against the jail and EMSA, the private, for profit medical care company which the jail has contracted with to provide medical services at the jail, claiming they were negligent in their care. Under the terms of the settlement, Washoe County paid Cornwall $24,999 and EMSA paid him $15,001. Washoe county deputy district attorney Greg Shannon said Ong had since been reassigned to clerical duties. He noted that Cornwall had suffered only minor injuries and had been told to take Advil when he sought medical treatment two days after his release from the jail.

Asked why the case had been settled, Shannon responded that while a jury could have awarded Cornwall a small amount in damages, the county could have been "clobbered" with attorney fees, which is what has happened to Washoe County in other cases.

Source: Las Vegas Sun

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