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Prisoner's Action Affirmed Against North Carolina DOC For Negligence Leading To Amputation

The North Carolina Department of Correction (DOC) appealed the reversal of a 1989 summary judgment grant dismissing state prisoner Joe Medley's action for a DOC contracted private physician's negligence. The court affirmed the dismissal holding that the DOC had a duty to provide adequate care.

Medley's leg was amputated after alleged negligence by physician John Stanley. He brought action pursuant to the North Carolina Tort Claims Act (Act). The DOC motioned for summary judgment dismissal because Stanley was an independent contractor and not subject to the Act. Dismissal was granted and Medley appealed arguing that the DOC had a statutory duty to provide him adequate medical care and the court reversed the dismissal. The DOC appealed.

The Supreme Court of North Carolina held that since the federal Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause required the DOC to provide adequate medical care to prisoners, the State's clause imposed at least the same duty if not greater. See: Medley v. North Carolina Department of Correction, 330 N.C. 837, 412 S.E.2d 654 (1992).

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Related legal case

Medley v. North Carolina Department of Correction