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California Prisoner Settles with Prison Doctor Accused of Deliberate Indifference

by Christopher Zoukis

 Christopher Du Pree, a prisoner at the Lancaster, California, correctional facility, accepted a settlement for an undisclosed amount against the prison physician whom he accused of deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

     In February 2003, Du Pree began seeing Paul Fortaleza, M.D., a physician at the Lancaster prison, to treat his back pain. According to Du Pree, Fortaleza refused to consult an outside specialist, failed to treat him in a timely manner, neglected paperwork and revoked the Green Vest that exempted him from having to get on the ground during alarms. Du Pree also alleged that he was refused required pain medication.

     On May 3, 2004, Du Pree filed a complaint in federal court against Fortaleza and several others. Judge Aubrey B. Collins pared the case down to the accusation against Fortaleza. Du Pree sought $50 million to compensate for his physical and mental pain and suffering.

     Fortaleza argued that his actions met the standard of prison care, and he denied any culpability. He also claimed that he had qualified immunity.

     A notice of settlement was field with the court on November 10, 2011, after Du Pree and Fortaleza reached an agreement during mediation.

 See: Du Pree v. Woodford, et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Case No. 2:04-cv-03484-ABC-RX (Nov. 10, 2011)

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Related legal case

Du Pree v. Woodford, et al.