Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Quadriplegic Texas Prisoner Injured In Police Van Settles For $750,000

On May 31, 1999, a quadriplegic woman whose leg was broken during transport
in a Houston Police Department van settled her lawsuit against the city for

Plaintiff Sharon Lee, 61 at the time of the settlement, was rendered an
incomplete quadriplegic in an auto accident at age 16. She is confined to a
wheelchair but has limited use of her upper extremities. On May 26, 1996,
Lee admittedly attempted to shoplift some costume jewelry from a J.C.
Penney store by sweeping the merchandise into her lap.

At the insistence of the store manager Lee was arrested and taken to jail
in a wheelchair accessible van. From the jail Lee was transported to a
hospital for a catheter change by a similar van. On the return trip,
however, Lee was taken out of her wheelchair and placed on a 12-inch wooden
plank in the back of a regular jail van without a seat belt or other
support of any kind. According to Lee, this was done over her protests and
despite her cries for help. Sometime during the trip she fell and fractured
her leg. The injury went unnoticed for 36 hours. (Lee couldn't feel it due
to her quadriplegia.) It was finally discovered when jail personnel
couldn't get her jail jumpsuit on because of the swelling in her leg.

Lee required several orthopedic surgeries to correct malurions of the
fibula and tibia bones in her left leg. She also developed pressure sores
that progressed to Stage IV decubitis ulcers and ultimately required skin
graft surgeries. Lee's medical bills exceeded $200,000. She had retained
experts Dan Sutherland (civil); Harold Warren (law enforcement); and
Kenneth Parsons, M.D., and Peter James, M.D. (both medical). Attorney Tommy
W. Gillaspie of the Houston law firm Nallia & Jacobs represented Lee. The
case settled in mediation before mediator Jeff Abrams for $750,000. Judge
Marcia A.Crone in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
Texas approved the settlement. See: Lee v. The City of Houston, USDC SD TX,
Case No. unknown.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Lee v. The City of Houston