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Pennsylvania County Jail Settles Medical Indifference Suit for $55,000

Butler County, Pennsylvania has agreed to settle a medical deliberate indifference lawsuit for $55,000. In April 2006, James Raub was arrested and taken to the Butler County Prison. During the booking process, he told guards and a nurse that he was in pain and wanted to be sent to a hospital. Prison staff ignored his request.

Over the course of the next week, Raub kept complaining of pain and asking to go to the hospital. Instead, prison em-ployees treated him for drug withdrawal despite being told by both Raub and his mother that he did not have a drug or alcohol problem.

Eventually, Raub’s condition deteriorated to the point where all he could say was “I don’t know. I don’t know.” His blood pressure was 122/0 and he had a heart rate of 128.

On April 19, 2006, Raub was finally taken to a hospital. He only stayed long enough to have his blood drawn, though, and was then returned to the prison. According to notes from the prison’s nurses, Raub was “mentally vague,” “unable to answer any questions appropriately” and “totally out of touch with reality” when he was examined the following day.

On April 20, nursing staff played “phone tag” with the prison’s doctor, Simmon L. Wilcox, trying to get permission to re-turn Raub to the hospital. When he was finally reached, Wilcox ordered Raub to be sedated with drugs used for treating acute alcohol withdrawal. Wilcox did not examine him in person before making this diagnosis.

Raub’s blood test results came back on April 21, 2006. They weren’t good. He had enterococcus faecalis – a bacterial infection – in his blood, and further tests revealed that he had suffered a stroke and needed an immediate aortic valve replacement. He was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery four days later.

Raub sued Butler County and numerous prison employees in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate in-difference to his serious medical needs. The county settled the case in January 2010 for $55,000, without admitting liability.

Alexander Lindsay, Raub’s attorney, called the settlement agreement fair. The fairness of the paltry settlement is questionable, however, because according to Raub’s complaint he now has “permanent brain injury, permanent cognitive deficits, and is permanently disabled” as a result of the misdiagnosis and delay in medical care by Butler County Prison staff. See: Raub v. County of Butler, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:08-cv-00511-DWA-CB.

Additional source: Associated Press

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Related legal case

Raub v. County of Butler