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BOP Prisoner States FTCA Claim for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Stemming from Burning Prison

The plaintiff sustained carbon monoxide poisoning while locked down during a fire started during a riot. The Clinical Director ordered that he remain in the prison medical facility rather than be sent to a hospital. Six days later, when he finally got to a hospital, he was found to have a collapsed lung.

The plaintiff's Bivens claim is barred by the one-year Tennessee statute of limitations on personal injury actions. The period was not tolled while the Federal Tort Claims Act claim was under consideration, since constitutional claims may not be pursued under FTCA.

The court denies the government summary judgment under the discretionary exception to the FTCA because it failed to show how the decision to leave the plaintiff in his cell during the fire was made.

The court denies the government summary judgment on the merits. The doctor who refused to send the plaintiff to the hospital never x-rayed him or took a blood sample to determine if he had CO in his blood, and the government has provided no evidence that the doctor exercised the requisite degree of skill. The only evidence of the proper course of treatment was the paramedics' act of bringing the plaintiff to the front gate for evacuation to a hospital.

The plaintiff's incarceration gave rise to a duty of care to the plaintiff. Staff left their posts during the fire, showing that the government breached its duty to the plaintiff. The CO poisoning and the collapsed lung show proximate cause. (This is not explained.) The government presented no evidence that the housing units were cleared of smoke before the prisoners were locked in or that leaving them locked in while fires burned out of control was reasonable. See: Jackson v. United States, 24 F.Supp.2d 823 (W.D.Tenn. 1998).

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Related legal case

Jackson v. United States