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$17.5 Million Verdict for Diabetic Prisoner in New York

A diabetic prisoner who was denied insulin by officers with the New York Police Department (NYPD) was awarded $17.5 million by a Brooklyn jury on October 19, 2010.

For nearly 58 hours after Jose Vargas’ arrest on drug charges in September 2006, he went without insulin for his Type I diabetes.

Vargas had insulin on him at the time of his arrest but the cops took it from him. Vargas told the officers who escorted him to jail that he had Type I diabetes, though they wrote on a medical treatment form that he could control his diabetes through diet.

Type I diabetics cannot control their diabetes with diet alone.

Vargas suffered a seizure and after such a lengthy time without insulin his brain was left “fried,” according to an expert who testified at the trial. Vargas is now confined to a wheelchair and “has just enough consciousness to know the state of his life,” said his attorney, Seth A. Harris, with the New York law firm of Burns & Harris.

The jury awarded Vargas $4.5 million for pain and suffering, $10 million for nursing home care for the rest of his life and $3 million in punitive damages against the NYPD officers involved. The City of New York, which is required to pay the judgment, indicated it would appeal the verdict. See: Vargas v. City of New York, Kings Supreme Court (NY), Case No. 33215/07.

Sources: New York Post, Associated Press,

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Related legal case

Vargas v. City of New York