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Utah: $490,000 Verdict for Untreated Hypertension, Vision Loss, Renal Failure

On November 25, 1992, a Utah jury awarded $490,000 to a state prisoner who
suffered vision loss and renal failure because prison medical personnel
failed to treat his hypertension.

While imprisoned at the Utah State Prison, the plaintiff, 30, underwent a
routine urinalysis that revealed abnormal albumin levels. Medical personnel
failed to perform a scheduled follow-up urinalysis several days later.
Subsequently, after two years, while still imprisoned, the plaintiff began
experiencing blurred vision, nausea and headaches. He reported the symptoms
to medical personnel but his complaints were ignored for two months. When
his symptoms worsened, the plaintiff was finally transported to a hospital
where he was diagnosed with complete renal failure.

The plaintiff sued, contending (1) the prison's medical staff was negligent
for failing to follow up on his urinalysis and for not responding to his
progressive neurological complaints, and (2) the prison violated his state
civil rights by failing to provide him with adequate medical care.

Consequently, the plaintiff's hypertension continued unchecked, becoming
malignant and resulting in vision loss.

At trial the plaintiff's nursing expert, Karen Anderson (New York City, New
York), testified that the medical staff's failure to ensure the plaintiff
received timely and proper medical treatment when abnormal symptoms
appeared deviated from the standard of care. Plaintiff's corrections health
care expert, Jaye Anno (New Mexico) provided testimony regarding the prison
system's systemically deficient health care. Medical evidence indicated the
plaintiff's kidney function was permanently impaired, that he required
regular dialysis, and that he was awaiting a kidney transplant. George De
Vault (Salt Lake City) served as the plaintiff's expert nephrologist.
A jury found for the plaintiff and awarded him $490,000. The judge,
however, determined the Tort Claims Act cap of $250,000 was applicable and
reduced the award accordingly. The plaintiff was represented by Ross C.
Anderson, Steven W. Dougherty and Timothy W. Miller, all of Salt Lake City,
Utah. See: Bott v. Laney, Salt Lake County (court unknown), Case No.

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Related legal case

Bott v. Laney