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$30,000 Award in Hawaii Medical Negligence Suit

On March 14, 2006, a court in Hawaii awarded a prisoner $30,000 for medical negligence by Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) personnel.

Walter V. Rodenhurst, III, was a pre-trial detainee who was incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) due to overcrowding at OCCC. When he complained of abdominal pain and nausea, he was examined by an FDC physician who tentatively diagnosed him with gall stones which would require surgery. The physician faxed OCCC the preliminary diagnosis, the results of tests showing an elevated white blood cell count, and recommended ultrasound testing to confirm the diagnosis. This information was not placed in Rodenhurst?s medical file.

Rodenhurst was returned to OCCC and informed the medical staff of his diagnosis. However, he was not admitted into the OCCC medical unit for eleven days and not seen by a physician until the following day. He was then transferred to Kaukini Medical Center where, seven days later, he underwent endoscopic gall bladder surgery. He developed a severe complication, an infection of flesh-eating bacteria on his pancreas, and had to return for pancreatic surgery twelve days later.

Rodenhurst filed suit alleging medical malpractice through reckless or negligent acts and constitutional rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. After a two day trial, the court found, that defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Rodenhurst?s serious medical needs. However, OCCC personnel were negligent in failing to place the fax in Rodenhurst?s file causing a delay in his treatment and causing him to suffer unnecessary discomfort and pain for eleven days. Finding the State of Hawaii the only liable party, Judge Victoria S. Marks awarded $30,000 it general damages, $869.01 in costs and denied a request for punitive damages. Dr. Lance M. Kurata, who treated Rodenhurst at Kuakini testified on his behalf that the standard of care given him at OCCC was substandard. Rodenhurst was represented by attorneys Eric A. Seitz and Lawerence I. Kawasaki. See: Rodenhurst v. Hawaii, Court No. 2, Civil No. 040724.

Source: Personal Injury Judgments Hawaii

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Related legal case

Rodenhurst v. Hawaii