by Joe Watson
Darren Johnson, a prisoner at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution (SCI)-Graterford, was awarded $65,000 in a U.S. District Court bench trial in July 2008 after Correctional Physician Services (CPS), SCI-Graterford’s private medical care provider, was found to be negligent in treating Johnson’s severe knee injury.
On June 9, 1999, Johnson, then 37, injured his right knee while playing volleyball at SCI-Graterford. An X-ray on June 11, according to medical records, revealed that “the patella is in high position suggesting the possibility of compromise of the patellar ligament.” Johnson sought medical treatment afterwards with CPS; however, he was denied approval for orthopedic surgery until Sept. 17, 1999, three months--and close to a half-dozen doctors’ visits--after initially hurting his knee.
Because of the delay, Johnson ultimately required reconstructive surgery on his knee. Even after physical therapy, Johnson’s leg had limited flexibility and mobility. Johnson, who did not seek specific amounts for damages, said his inability to bend his knee completely keeps him from climbing stairs, running and participating in sports. An outside orthopedic surgeon who evaluated Johnson concurred that his limited mobility was permanent.
Angus Love and Su Ming Yeh of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project sued CPS on Johnson’s behalf for violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S. Code § 1983. Johnson, who remained incarcerated at trial, sought an unspecified amount for past and future pain and suffering. Love and Yeh presented award figures in like cases to Judge Jacob P. Hart (i.e., a New York case in which a prisoner was awarded $150,000) as a framework for Johnson’s damages. See: Johnson v. Correctional Physician Services, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Penn.), Case No. 2:00-CV-00711.
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Related legal case
Johnson v. Correctional Physician Services
|Cite||U.S.D.C. (E.D. Penn.), Case No. 2:00-CV-00711|