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New York: Prison Failed To Follow Up Cancer Treatment, Prisoner Awarded $210,000

New York: Prison Failed To Follow Up Cancer Treatment, Prisoner Awarded

On July 7, 2002, a state court of claims in Syracuse, New York, awarded a
prisoner $210,000 after concluding that prison medical personnel had
negligently failed to timely refer him to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT)
specialist for follow up cancer treatment.

In August 1997, while at the Clinton Correctional Facility, prisoner Louis
Nieves underwent surgery to have a squamous cell carcinoma removed from
his right nostril area. Nieves was subsequently transferred to another
prison. Upon his arrival, a nurse examined Nieves, reviewed his medical
history, and noted a recommendation that he see an ENT specialist in
January 1998. No action was taken. Nieves went to sick call on April 30,
2004, because bumps were growing under his right eye. Nieves finally saw
an ENT specialist in February 1999.

At trial the state agreed that the 13-month delay deviated from the
standard of care for proper medical treatment; thus, the only issue at
trial was whether the delay caused injury to Nieves.

Nieves claimed the lack of follow up care resulted in more extensive
surgery on June 2, 1999, than would have otherwise been necessary and that
it necessitated reconstructive surgeries on March 120, 20010 and July 5,
2001. Nieves further claimed that the delay lowered his chances for
survival, caused facial disfigurement, and resulted in an extended period
of pain and. suffering and a greater likelihood of future pain and
suffering. Nieves presented expert testimony from otolaryngologist Carl
Snyderman to support his claims.

The State defended claiming that regardless of the delay, Nieves' cancer
would have recurred in the area and he would have undergone the same

The court concluded that the State's negligence resulted in: 1) a reduced
chance of survival; 2) more extensive surgery; and 3) a prolonged period
of pain and suffering. The court determined, however, that the facial
disfigurement caused by removal of the septum would have been necessary
regardless of the delay. Accordingly, Nieves was awarded a total of
$210,000 ($60,000 for past pain and suffering, and $150,000 for future
pain and suffering).

Nieves was represented by John H. Fisher of the Albany, New York, law firm
Powers & Santola. See: Nieves v. State of New York, Court of Claims,
Syracuse, Case No. 101706.

Source: VerdictSearch New York Reporter

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Related legal case

Nieves v. State of New York