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New York Prisoner Awarded $322,000 For Hand Laceration

On September 19, 2007, a court of claims in White Plains, New York, awarded $322,000 to a state prisoner who suffered a severe hand laceration while opening a window at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville.

In his lawsuit Jose Medina, who is serving 50 years to life for a double murder, claimed that his hand went through a pane of glass on a window he was opening and that the palm of his right hand was “split open” from his wrist to the area between his second and third fingers. Medina was taken to a local hospital where surgery was performed several hours later. Following the February 11, 1999, incident Medina underwent physical therapy twice a month until 2001.

At trial Medina’s expert medical witness, Mark McMahon, M.D., a board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand surgery, described Medina’s surgery as very complicated. Dr. McMahon noted that the injury had completely transected the ulnar digital nerve of the index finger and the radial digital nerve of the third finger. He also noted that it was necessary for the surgeon to completely release the A-1 pulley of the flexor tendons of the first finger and that this would negatively affect Medina’s movement, dexterity, and strength.

Medina claimed that following the injury he was no longer able to participate in some of the activities he enjoyed such as lifting weights, painting, writing, and pitching for the prison softball team. He also claimed he could no longer perform his job as janitor, one of the highest paying jobs in the prison, and was forced into a lower paying job.

Dr. McMahon described Medina’s prognosis as poor. Medina will likely never recover fully from the injury, including the loss of sensation in two fingers, and will always suffer pain from the injury.

Following the damages portion of a bifurcated trial, the court awarded Medina a total of $108,000 for past pain and suffering, $217,000 for future pain and suffering, for a total award of $322,000. However, because the court found the state only 60% at fault for Medina’s injury and Medina 40% responsible, the award was reduced accordingly ($64,800 for past pain and suffering and $130,200 for future pain and suffering).

Medina was represented by attorney Adam M. Thompson. See: Medina v. the State of New York, White Plains Court of Claims, Claim No. 102349.

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Related legal case

Medina v. The State of New York