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Blanket Drug Ban States Deliberate Indifference Claim

U.S. District Judge William C. Lee has denied a motion to dismiss filed by Tippecanoe County in a suit that alleges deliberate indifference by Tippecanoe County Jail staff.

The lawsuit, filed by Randy Wethington, alleges that jail medical staff refused to provide Wethington with his prescription narcotic and mood stabilizer medications. According to Wethington, the jail had an unwritten ban on prisoners receiving this kind of medicine, even if it was prescribed before the prisoner's incarceration. Wethington complained that he went through withdrawal without his medicine.

In denying the defendants motion to dismiss, Judge Lee held that Wethington had sufficiently alleged deliberate indifference. Wethington "alleges that there is a blanket policy against providing certain medications to inmates, even when prescribed by a physician. At least one court has found blanket adherence to a policy forbidding medications to state a claim for deliberate indifference if such policies do not involve consultation with an inmate's treating physician or individual assessment of an inmate's problems," the court wrote.

The court also held that Wethington’s allegation that jail staff cut off his Xanax "cold turkey" stated a claim of deliberate indifference. See: Wethington v. Tippecanoe County Sheriff, No. 4:10-CV-84 (N.C. Ind., 2011).

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Related legal case

Wethington v. Tippecanoe County Sheriff