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Georgia: $453,000 Jury Verdict against Private Jail Medical Contractor

Georgia: $453,000 Jury Verdict against Private Jail Medical Contractor

by David Reutter

A Georgia federal jury awarded $452,917.50 to a former detainee for injuries that resulted from inadequate medical care at the Hart County Jail.

Monica Robinson was on probation for a criminal offense on April 20, 2012 when she went to a hospital emergency room for treatment of a rash that had recently appeared. Four days later she returned to the emergency room because the rash had progressed.

She spent the next five days in the hospital after testing indicated she had a MRSA infection. She also tested positive for amphetamines. Following her release from the hospital, Robinson received antibiotics to take orally. She was arrested on July 21 for failing to comply with the terms of her probation; upon booking, she said she was in pain and had been recently hospitalized for a staph infection.

The next morning Robinson requested medical attention for her pain complaints. Without seeing a medical professional, she was given Motrin and Benadryl. Between July 23 and August 11, 2012, she continued to complain that she had a staph infection, her shoulder and back hurt, and she was constipated.

The only medical attention provided was from an EMT who prescribed pain medication. EMT Brian Evans noted that Robinson had a distended abdomen, yet did nothing but prescribe stool softener and Motrin.

Shortly afterwards, Robinson required physical assistance to get to the jail’s medical station. She complained to EMT Mike Adams of numbness in the legs and inability to walk or urinate. He did nothing other than note the jail should “consider” sending her to a doctor if her condition did not improve.

The next morning Robinson urinated on herself. Two ministers visiting the jail saw her condition and called her family. They called Capt. Milford. He contacted Chief Deputy Tommy Whitmire to advise that Robinson was on the floor and could not get up. Whitmire ordered the jail’s medical contractor, Bruce Bailey, an EMT who owns Integrated Detention Health Service (IDHS), to be called. Bailey said “he would see what he could do.” Whitmire, apparently not satisfied, ordered an ambulance.

Robinson underwent surgery to treat discitis, osteomyelitis and a large epidural abscess with spinal cord compression caused by a bacterial infection. While the surgery reversed the partial paralysis, Robinson still suffered a significant impairment. Prior to leaving the jail and before surgery, jail officials tried to have Robinson released from custody, and subsequently convinced the probation officer to drop charges to avoid the medical costs to treat her.

IDHS holds the contract to provide health care to detainees at the Hart County Jail. The physician of record, Dr. Robert J. Williams, was required by policy to make weekly visits to the facility. In a summary judgment order, the district court found “Dr. Williams has never visited the jail in the years he has served as medical director, nor has he monitored the paramedics in person.” Bailey had not been to the jail in three or four years, leaving EMTs Adams and Evans as the only on-site medical personnel while Robinson was incarcerated.

Robinson’s suit alleged state law negligence claims and Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations. On August 16, 2014, a federal jury found Dr. Williams 33% liable and IDHS 67% liable for $300,000 in general damages and $152,917.50 in medical bills. Robinson was represented by attorneys Craig T. Jones and Douglas C. Mckillip. See: Robinson v. Integrated Detention Health Services, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Georgia), Case No. 3:12-cv-00020-CAR.

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Related legal case

Robinson v. Integrated Detention Health Services