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Illinois Prisoner Receives $12 Million Jury Award in Medical Neglect Suit

On January 18, 2013, an Illinois federal jury awarded an Illinois prisoner $12 Million against an Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) Correctional Medical Technician (CMT) who failed to provide him his anti-seizure medication which allowed him to have a seizure that resulted in severe and permanent brain damage.

Ray Fox was 45 years old and incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center's Northern Reception and Classification Center (Stateville) on October 7, 2007. Stateville is a DOC intake facility where prisoners are held temporarily until they are assigned to a specific DOC prison. At that ti e, Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford), a private health services provider was under contract to provide prisoner health services at Stateville.

Fox suffered from epilepsy or a seizure disorder and took anti-seizure medication to control his condition. During the intake process, a doctor prescribed Fox 200 mg of phenytoin and 30 mg of phenobarbital to be taken daily. However, according to court records, Fox never received his medication despite repeated requests to guards and CMTs who were employed by the prison. As a result of this lack of medication, Fox suffered a seizure about two weeks after arriving at Stateville.

After the seizure, he was discovered on the floor of his cell bleed ng from the head and/or mouth suffering from severe head trauma, intracranial bleeding and aspirational pneumonia. This injury resulted in permanent brain

his surroundings and requiring constant supervision. He is "mentally dis bled damage rendering Fox unable to walk, partially blind, disoriented regarding and totally without understanding or capacity to make or communicate decisions about his person, estate or financial affairs." His mother, Rose Fox, was appointed plenary guardian of his person and estate.

With the assistance of Chicago attorneys Arthur Lowey, Michael Kanovitz, Jon Loevy and Elizabeth Wang, Fox filed a civil rights suit in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of Fox's rights under the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Essentially, the suit claimed that Wexford routinely delayed or denied prisoners proper medical treatment as a costs-savings measure.

The suit named many guards and CMTs who allegedly ignored Fox's pleas for medical attention and requests for his medication, including CMTs David Barnes and Michael R. Borkowski (the CMTs), the only two defendants who were apparently remaining when the case went to trial. It was specifically alleged that the CMTs ignored Fox's requests for assistance in obtaining his medications at least two to three times per shift; that they failed to provide medical care when Fox told them he was suffering from headaches, diarrhea trembling and the shakes; that they ignored the clearly-visible signs of is serious illness; and that they failed to alert the proper medical authorities  regarding his medical condition and lack of medication. It was also alleged that the evening before the seizure, Barnes examined Fox in his cell, but ignored the fact that Fox had urinated on himself, vomited on his blanket, had a headache and had not received his Dilantin (phenytoin) and did not report Fox's situation to medical authorities.

The jury awarded Fox $11,000,000.00 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000.00 in punitive damages against Barnes while finding in Borkowski's favor. Fox should also be eligible to recover attorney fees and costs. See: Fox v. Barnes, U.S.D.C.-N.D. Ill., Case No. 1:09-cv-05453.


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Related legal case

Fox v. Barnes