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$3,000 Jury Award to Arizona Prisoner Denied Prostate Care

$3,000 Jury Award to Arizona Prisoner Denied Prostate Care

by David M. Reutter

An Arizona federal jury awarded $3,000 to a prisoner in a case involving the delay or denial of medical care. Post-trial, the district court awarded $3,908.25 in attorney fees and costs, but found reductions applied to cut the award to $2,548.40.

Arizona state prisoner David Arenberg, 57, was diagnosed in May 2008 with benign hyperplasia of the prostate, which could require surgery. Beginning in October 2009 he requested a consult for his condition. It was not until over a year later, on November 17, 2010, that he finally had a consult with a urologist.

Arenberg filed a civil rights action against Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC); medical program manager Richard Rowe; and James Taylor, the ADC’s northern regional health administrator. The district court granted a motion for judgment as a matter of law for all claims against Ryan and for punitive damages against Rowe and Taylor.

The case proceeded to trial against Rowe and Taylor, who claimed it was the responsibility of a non-party to facilitate outside medical consultations and ensure they were scheduled. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Rowe on July 25, 2013 but found against Taylor. Apparently, the jurors agreed with Arenberg’s position that Taylor failed to take reasonable measures to address his serious medical needs.

Post-trial, Arenberg moved for the statutory maximum award of $4,500 in attorney fees (150% of the damages pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act). The defendants countered with a request for $609.45 in costs for transcripts of a trial witness. The district court noted the defendants had made a $20,000 offer of judgment, which Arenberg rejected. As the offer was greater than the final recovery and the transcripts were still significant to Rowe’s defense, the court granted the defendants’ motion for costs.

The court also reduced the attorney fee award by $618.75 after finding 5.5 hours of work listed by Arenberg’s counsel was not related to the claim against Taylor. Costs of $26.80 were awarded, which was significantly lower than the $623.99 Arenberg had requested.

Finally, the district court invoked 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d)(2), which provides a prisoner plaintiff may be required to pay up to 25% of the judgment toward attorney fees. Subtracting $750 from the $3,298.40 total award reduced it to $2,548.40. Arenberg was represented by Tempe attorneys Nemer Hadous and David Ali Chami. See: Arenberg v. Ryan, U.S.D.C. (D. AZ), Case 2:10-cv-02228-JWS.


Additional source: The Trial Reporter

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Related legal case

Arenberg v. Ryan