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New York Prisoner Awarded $100,000 for Delayed Surgeries From Work Place Fall

A New York prisoner who was denied medical care for five months was awarded $100,000.

On May 25, 1989, New York prisoner Thomas Lenahan fell from a two-story roof in a work accident. He was treated for a wrist fracture at a hospital, after having refused to permit x-rays to any part of his body other than the wrist. A cast was placed on the wrist. When it was removed, "the wrist was obviously deformed." Additionally, Lenahan suffered a dislocated shoulder while playing handball in November 1989.

Lenahan sued in state court, alleging that inordinate treatment delays of both injuries aggravated those injuries. Lenahan's medical records "indicated that although a request for an orthopedic consultation was made in September 1990, he did not receive that consultation for 5 months. He received no corrective surgery for the shoulder until March, 1992. Regarding the wrist injury, the evidence showed that the state was made aware of the nonunion of the fracture through a September 1990 x-ray. Surgery should have been performed, at the latest, by February 1991."

The court found for Lenahan, noting "that pursuant to the settlement of a federal class action suit entitled Milburn v. Coughlin, Case No. 79 Civ. 5077 (SDNY 1991), inmates with non-emergency conditions were to be provided with specialty care within 45 days of the order therefore." The court found "that the proof established that after the wrist injury," Lenahan was "unable to manage fine hand and wrist manipulations inherent in his former duties as an electrician's helper. 
However, he failed to show that he suffered future earnings loss, because, during his incarceration, he earned a business degree which would likely afford him a greater earnings potential than his previous employment." On December 10, 1998, Lenahan was awarded $25,000 for past pain and suffering and $35,000 for future pain and suffering for the delayed wrist treatment. It then awarded $20,000 for past pain and suffering and $20,000 for future pain and suffering for treatment of the shoulder injury. Plaintiff was represented by Gerald Orsek of Liberty, New York. See: Lenahan v. New York, White Plains Ct. of Claims, Case No. 93469-87918.

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Related legal case

Lenahan v. New York