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New York Prisoner Awarded $100 for Delayed Pain Medication

On December 30, 2003, a court of claims in Albany, New York awarded a
state prisoner $100 for pain and suffering associated with the prison's
failure to timely provide pain medication after he broke his hand.

Plaintiff Jonathan Greene, a New York state prisoner, claimed that
on July 20, 2000 he slipped on some rocks and fell while walking on the
recreation yard at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora,
fracturing the fifth metacarpal bone of his right hand.

Greene's hand was X-rayed at the prison infirmary and placed in a cast.
Greene alleged that on July 27 he was prescribed pain medication, but that
the prison did not fill the prescription until August 9. Greene sued the
state of New York, pro se, alleging that the rocks on which he slipped
were the result of roof construction at the prison and that they created a
hazardous condition. Greene further claimed that his injury was not timely
treated by medical personnel and that he was not provided with the pain
medication within a reasonable time frame.

The state defended, arguing that Greene had not presented a prima facie
case of medical malpractice. The state also presented evidence suggesting
that Greene told prison medical staff he had injured his hand hitting a
punching bag.

The court dismissed Greene's premises-liability claim, opining that Greene
had presented no evidence showing that the rocks resulted from roof
construction or that the state had notice of any dangerous situation.
Furthermore, Greene's failure to provide expert testimony in order to
establish a standard of care precluded him from making a prima facie
showing that the state delayed treatment of his injuries; therefore, that
claim was also dismissed.

However, the court further held that the part of Greene's claim premised
on the prison's failure to timely provide pain medication "presents a
clearer issue and requires no expert testimony to establish a breach of
the duty of care." The court held that although no evidence suggested that
delaying the pain medication exacerbated Greene's injury, the court
reasoned that Greene's suffering would have been considerably less if the
pain medication had been provided in a timely manner. Accordingly, the
court awarded Greene $100 for past pain and suffering. See: Greene v.
State of New York, Court of Claims, Albany, Case No. 103823.

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Related legal case

Greene v. State of New York