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Georgia Prisoner Left in Vegetative State; Lawsuit Settles for $1,500,000

by Ed Lyon

In March 2014, Mollianne Fischer’s term of probation for misusing a credit card was revoked and she began serving a two-year sentence at Arrendale State Prison. She appeared to be in good health at first, though later began vomiting and had trouble breathing and remaining continent. She requested medical care several times but prison medical staff accused her of faking her symptoms.

On May 25, 2014, Fischer was discovered lying on the floor of her cell. She was not responsive. A video obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed prison guards handcuffing the semiconscious prisoner’s hands behind her back and screaming at her to “stand up.” At one point she begged, “Give me a minute,” to which a guard eloquently responded, “We don’t got a minute.” After the guards pulled Fischer to her feet, she collapsed. They put her face-down on a cart and took her to segregation. [See: PLN, April 2019, p.44].

“If we had gone to trial, we would have played [that video] over and over again,” said attorney Michael Perez.

For two and a half days, Fischer remained on the floor of her segregation cell until the morning of May 27. Only then, after lying in her own bodily waste, was she finally taken to a hospital. Once there she was diagnosed with pancreatitis, pneumonia, renal failure and sepsis. Fischer remained comatose for seven days. 

When she was discharged from the hospital on June 17, 2014, she was assigned to the Pulaski State Prison and admitted to the infirmary so she could receive dialysis. Despite her serious condition, the DOC denied a medical reprieve requested by her parents. Dr. Yvon Nazaire refused to medicate Fischer with blood-thinning drugs to protect against clots, even though Fischer was largely immobile. 

Nazaire would later say, “Yes, she was at high risk [for pulmonary embolism], but that doesn’t mean you’re going to put everyone with high risk on prophylaxis [preventive health care].” 

Fischer subsequently experienced a pulmonary embolism due to a blood clot, which caused her brain to suffer from lack of oxygen to the point she was left in a vegetative state. After that occurred, and it was apparent her ongoing medical care would be very expensive, she was granted a medical reprieve and released to her parents. 

Attorneys with the Champion Law Firm and Warshauer Law Group filed suit on behalf of Fischer’s parents, James and Angela. They learned that Dr. Nazaire had a history of patient neglect in emergency rooms, four malpractice death claims in New York and nine patient deaths during his 10-year employment with the Georgia Department of Corrections before he was terminated in 2015. [See: PLN, April 2019. p.44; Sept. 2018, p.38; Dec. 2017, p.18].

Georgia officials agreed to settle the case – which was removed from state to federal court – in July 2018 for $1,500,000, which was the largest settlement in a prison lawsuit in that state in over a decade. Of the settlement amount, $675,000 went to attorney fees and $21,029 to costs. See: Fischer v. Georgia Dept. of Corr., U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ga.), Case No. 2:16-cv-00143-RWS.

According to an August 31, 2018 article published by the Journal-Constitution, Fischer, 43, still resides with her parents and “cannot speak, receives nourishment through a feeding tube and wears a diaper that must be changed every few hours.” 

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Additional sources: gainesvilletimes.com, thechampionlawfirm.com, warlawgroup.com, ajc.com

Related legal case

Fischer v. Georgia Dept. of Corr.