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Infected Hand Mistreatment At Sacramento County Jail Settled For $100,000

The County of Sacramento, California settled a federal civil rights lawsuit brought against county jail staff for failure to properly treat the injured hand of a prisoner. While the $100,000 settlement was less than the prisoner’s $156,000 in medical bills, after the billing was sorted out, most of the judgment went to him.

Ricky Kirk, 40, was jailed in 2004 on a spousal abuse charge. He arrived with a laceration on his palm caused by striking his wife in the teeth.
The injury became infected and required surgery. But when taken to Sutter General Hospital, he was only fitted with a sling and returned to jail.
The hospital doctors ordered daily cleansing and dressing of the wound, which wasn’t done. Over the following 3 days, the infection worsened, causing fever, chills and severe swelling. Kirk even-tually needed three surgeries, including a skin graft from his thigh. He claimed permanent scarring.

A wizened County Sheriff took the counteroffensive by discharging Kirk from custody while he was still in the hospital, in an attempt to limit the County’s exposure to his medical bills. In other words, having knowingly mistreated Kirk in a manner causing him extra surgeries, they tried to stiff him with the damages from their inept medical care.

In a moment of truth, County Sheriff John McGinness admitted, “We probably should have done a better job attending to his medical needs.
The reality is, it wasn’t our shining moment.” And while McGinness added that the jail had since im-proved medical care, he lamented that the County took a beating because “the cause of the injury” was not considered as a factor in the settlement. Or, putting it bluntly, McGinness believed that Kirk deserved bad medical care because he caused his initial injury. Indeed, some of the jail’s medical personnel gave sworn depositions that they saw nothing wrong with the way Kirk’s case was handled.

Kirk eventually pled no contest to a reduced misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to the six days served. Kirk was represented by Sacramento attorney Steward Katz. See: Kirk v. Sacramento County, USDC (E.D. Cal.) Case No. 2:05-CV-01790-MCE¬GGH (Settlement Order, July 2007).

Additional sources: VerdictSearch, Sacramento Bee

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Related legal case

Kirk v. Sacramento County