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Seventh Circuit Rules for State Officials in Prisoner Medical Co-pay Dispute

The Seventh Circuit has upheld the district court dismissal of prisoner Peter Poole III’s complaint again the Big Muddy River Correctional Center in downstate Illinois over its refusal to waive what he felt was an unnecessary co-payment of a medical bill. Poole had sued in federal district court against the medical administrator at the facility, alleging that he “didn’t have any money” for the co-payment.

Poole had gone in for a routine dental exam in September 17, 2007, but balked at authorizing payment from his facility trust account. Although Poole had money in his trust account, he did not go through with the dental care, and alleged that he suffered “headaches as well as extreme tooth pain that made eating difficult,” according to the court’s decision. Poole went through the prison grievance process, and after some delay, finally authorized the withdrawal of his funds to get his needed dental treatment.

The prison relied upon the case of City of Revere v. Mass. General Hospital, 463 U.S. 239 (1983), which held that the Due Process Clause dictates that “as long as the governmental entity ensures that the medical care needed is in fact provided, the Constitution does not dictate how the cost of that care should be allocated as between the entity and the provider of the care.”

The court found that the facility was not responsible for the pain suffered by Poole, and that any delay in his receiving treatment “was of his own making.” See: Poole v. Isaacs, 703 F.3d 1024 (7th Cir. 2012).

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Related legal case

Poole v. Isaacs