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$678,505.67 Settlement After Federal Prisoner Dies From Misdiagnosed Cancer

Illinois State resident and executor of her deceased husband's estate, Mary Norton, brought a federal tort action against the United States in 1996. She claimed that her husband James Norton, died due to negligence and medical malpractice. The court awarded her $678,505.67.

James Norton was serving a 10 year federal sentence for a 1987 racketeering conviction and was incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp at Oxford, Wisconsin in 1989. He was seen at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Oxford by Dr. Reed for complaints of pain. X rays were ordered. However, Reed relied on radiologist Dr. Wegner to interpret the results. It was determined that a pre existing gallstone condition was the source of the pain. FCI Oxford providers did not correlate his heavy smoking and family cancer history with the x ray results and previous exams. Norton died in 1994 from cancer. Mary Norton brought the action under the Federal Tort Claims Act in 1995 for her husband's needless pain and suffering and wrongful death.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois awarded Mary Norton funeral expenses of $10,742.79; medical expenses of $117,752.90; $400,000 to her husband's estate for his survivors; and $150,000 for the wrongful death. The court held that objective factors such as common sense, medical experts' testimony and reasonableness amounted to a breach of standard care and that Reed's negligence was the proximate cause of the suffering and early death. The court noted that Norton's sentence was not for life or for death. See: Norton v. United States, USDC, N.D. Ill., Case No. 94 C 1430 (Apr. 28, 1997).

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Related legal case

Norton v. United States

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