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BOP Settles Medical Malpractice Claim for $50,000

The Bureau of Prisons settled a claim of medical malpractice brought by a prisoner in September 2003.

Kenneth H. Wellman, a prisoner at Federal Correctional Institution Phoenix, Arizona, filed a lawsuit in federal court on November 13, 2001. According to the complaint, filed pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671 et seq., Bureau employee Philip E. Shoaf, D.O., committed malpractice by "failing to recognize, diagnose and treat Mr. Wellman's underlying medical condition." The failures by Shoaf, which were not detailed in the complaint, allegedly "presented serious, life-threatening injury" to Wellman.

According to the complaint, all was not well with Wellman. Due to the negligent failures of Shoaf, Wellman alleged that while housed at FCI Phoenix he sustained serious physical injury, medical expense, physical disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of income and loss of consortium.

The parties settled the claim September 9, 2003. Wellman agreed to accept $50,000.00 in full satisfaction of his claims against Dr. Shoaf and Dr. William D. Brown (who apparently treated Wellman as well), the Bureau of Prisons and the United States of America. Wellman also agreed that, despite his claims, Shoaf and Brown "acted within accepted standards of medical care and practice and exercised proper medical judgment in the care, evaluation and treatment of [Wellman]."

In an unusual aspect of the settlement agreement, the parties specifically agreed that "genuine issues of law and fact are present with respect to [Wellman's] allegations of negligence by independent health care practitioners upon whom Drs. Brown and Shoaf relied upon in developing a treatment plan for Kenneth H. Wellman." By throwing these other, unnamed doctors under the bus, the parties allowed claims against them to remain pending.

Wellman was represented by Phoenix, Arizona attorneys Thomas M. Ryan and John Aguirre of the firm Treon, Strick, Lucia & Aguirre.

The documents from this case were obtained by Prison Legal News after a successful twelve-year-long battle with the Bureau of Prisons over a Freedom of Information Act records request.

See:  Wellman v. United States of America, United States District Court, District of Arizona, Civil Case No. CIV-01-2203-PHX-FJM.

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Related legal case

Wellman v. United States of America