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$2.7 Million Settlement for Oklahoma Double Leg Amputee Jail Prisoner

On April 9, 2009, a federal district judge in Oklahoma signed a consent decree memorializing a $2.7 million settlement between an Oklahoma county and a former jail prisoner who suffered amputation of both legs while incarcerated at the jail.

Russell Mounger, a former prisoner at the Creek County Jail, was arrested for possession and manufacture of drugs. By the end of his two-week stay in the jail, he had been charged with assaulting a guard and was about to lose both of his legs. Mounger filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights suit in federal district court against the Sheriff of Creek County and five jail employees, alleging that mistreatment and denial of medical attention caused him to lose his legs.

According to the lawsuit, upon arrival at the jail, Mounger informed jail personnel that he required several prescription medications. He was never given the medications. The lack of medication allegedly caused him to deteriorate mentally and physically and act in a bizarre fashion which should have made his need for medical attention apparent. Instead of providing medical aid, guards at the jail allegedly beat Mounger twice, placed him in a restraint chair for longer periods than allowed under jail policy and held him in solitary confinement.

After two weeks of this kind of alleged abuse, Mounger was discovered to be weak, lethargic and unresponsive in his cell. He was transported to a hospital where it was determined that he was suffering from “severe metabolic derangement including hyperkalemia, hypotension, respiratory distress, severe metabolic acidosis secondary to acute renal failure, rhabdomyolysis due to disseminated intravascular coagulation, multi-organ failure, and venous thrombosis of the lower extremities.” He was in a state of extreme hypothermia and his left leg was deep purple below the knee with his right leg similarly discolored from the ankle to the foot. Both legs were pallored with diminished or absent pulses.

The physicians determined that Mounger was at significant risk of limb loss and possible death due to gangrene. Therefore, Mounger was kept at the hospital and stabilized for two days before his left leg was amputated at the hip. Mounger’s right leg was amputated below the knee two weeks later. Mounger was in possession of a video tape show-ing him in a holding cell in obvious need of medical attention, but being ignored. Defendants agreed to settle the suit before filing motions or taking depositions. The settlement required that all defendants except the sheriff be dismissed from the suit and an award of $2.7 million, including all fees, costs, attorney fees and medical expenses, be paid to Mounger. $1 million was paid by the county’s insurance as $200,000 to Mounger’s lawyers and $4,290.00 per month to Mounger for 20 years. The remaining $1.7 million is to be paid by the county in three annual payments over the next three years and financed by a $17 per $100,000 increase in the county’s property taxes. The county admitted no liability.

Mounger also accepted a plea bargain for 5-years probation on the charge of possession of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. All other charges were dropped. Three jail employees were fired as a result of the Mounger inci-dent and other jail employees resigned, possibly related to the incident. Mounger was represented by Tulsa attorneys Clark O. Brewster and Guy A. Fortney. See: Mounger v. Toliver, U.S.D.C.-N.D. OK, Case No. 08-CV-080-GKF-TLW.

Additional Sources: Tulsa World; Associated Press.

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Related legal case

Mounger v. Toliver

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.