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$165,000 Settlement over Forced “Cold Turkey” Withdrawal from Prescribed Medication

A California prisoner received a $165,000 settlement in a civil rights action alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs surrounding his forced “cold turkey” withdrawal from medication prescribed by prison doctors.

Prisoner Charles Strain was prescribed medication for pain for over three years preceding his transfer from the California State Prison to High Desert State Prison (HDSP) on February 26, 2004. Upon arriving at HDSP, Chief Medical Officer Richard Sandham, M.D. reviewed Strain’s medical file. Sandham told Strain he would not be getting his medications; Strain informed him that the medications were addictive and he had a constitutional right to not be subject to “abrupt denial” of such medications.

Over the next several weeks, Strain experienced withdrawal symptoms. He experienced diarrhea, tremors, pain, insomnia, loss of appetite, and vomiting. He lost 21 pounds and was taken to a hospital for hematemesis (vomiting blood) from the forced withdrawal.

After exhausting his administrative remedies, Strain filed his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint pro se. The parties reached a settlement on September 29, 2009. See: Strain v. Sendham, USDC, E.D. California, Case No. Civ-S-05-0474

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Related legal case

Strain v. Sendham