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$841,000 to Settle Negligent Medical Care Case

by Christopher Zoukis

A federal tort claim brought against the federal government, the Bureau of Prisons, and several medical and administrative officials for negligent medical care leading to a prisoner’s brain damage and death settled for $841,000 in May 2015.

Gerald Kapiloff was convicted of wire fraud and bank fraud and sentenced to 16 months of imprisonment. Two weeks before his surrender date, he underwent bariatric surgery and surgery to repair a hernia to his esophagus. Kapiloff’s attorneys and doctors made the sentencing court and the U.S. Attorney aware of his significant post-surgery medical needs, and requested a 30-day extension of his surrender date. In the letters to the judge and U.S. Attorney, the doctor and lawyer made it clear that Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn, New York would not be able to provide the medical care that Kapiloff required.

The request was denied, and Kapiloff was required to report on schedule to MDC Brooklyn. While imprisoned there, he received negligent care, despite his many attempts to obtain treatment. Kapiloff essentially begged for the post-op liquid diet he needed. According to the complaint, his requests for proper medical care were ignored.

“At no time prior to his discharge from MDC is there any reference in the MDC record that anyone ... considered or otherwise took into account that Gerald Kapiloff needed proper post-operative care including but not limited to a liquid diet, proper nutrition and vitamin nourishment given his recent history of bariatric surgery and need for post-operative care,” alleged the complaint.

This was despite the BOP’s assurances that Kapiloff would receive proper care. In response to attorney Donald I. Bierman’s May 31, 2011 letter to the Bureau’s Designation and Sentence Computation Center, operations manager G. Macias-Carson touted the medical care available at MDC Brooklyn, noting that the facility was accredited.

“MDC Brooklyn has the in-house medical staff that can provide care for many medical issues,” wrote Macias-Carson. “Additionally, MDC Brooklyn is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The JCAHO is a nationally recognized organization that audits federal, state, county and private health care systems based on nationally accepted health care standards. Mr. Kapiloff will receive medical treatment comparable to community standards, and the Bureau will continue to carefully monitor his medical condition on a regular basis.”

Of course, this was all lip service. The care provided to Kapiloff was negligent malpractice, which is not a nationally accepted healthcare standard. In fact, the care provided at MDC Brooklyn was so bad that Kapiloff was eventually transferred to Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he was immediately hospitalized. Unfortunately, it was too late. Kapiloff suffered irreversible brain damage while in the “care” of MDC Brooklyn medical professionals.

Kapiloff was eventually transferred to Federal Medical Center Butner, North Carolina. He was released from FMC Butner directly into a long-term care facility. Kapiloff died during the pendency of the litigation filed on his behalf.

See: Thompson v. United States, U.S.D.C. (E.D. NY), Case Nos. 13-cv-01837-RLM and 14-cv-04877-RLM. 

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Related legal case

Thompson v. United States