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$115,000 Settlement after Nebraska Prison Nurses Ignore Prisoner Suffering Heart Attack

by Ed Lyon

In mid-August 2015, diabetic Nebraska prisoner Aron Lee Boyd­-Nicholson was washing clothes in his cell when he began experiencing classic heart attack symptoms – including chest pain, dizziness and weakness – before he collapsed. Nurse Carolyn Moore tested his blood-sugar levels, then instructed him to return to the infirmary the following day if his symptoms continued. 

Boyd-Nicholson’s symptoms had worsened by the next morning to include nausea. Other diabetic prisoners and a case manager could see he was in acute pain and distress, so a wheelchair was procured and Boyd-Nicholson was taken to the infirmary by the prisoners when they went for insulin. 

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Stephanie Snodgrass and Registered Nurse (RN) April Rollins pointedly ignored Boyd-­Nicholson at the infirmary. When the situation was pointed out to the nurses by prisoner Alberto Vasquez, Rollins told Vasquez to mind his own business.

Despite a detailed protocol for medical procedures when patients presented with symptoms like those Boyd-Nicholson was experiencing, he was returned to his cell. He continued to suffer for the next five days, filing two treatment requests and a grievance. All were ignored.

On August 17, 2015, an Emergency Response Team was sent to Boyd-Nicholson’s cell; an EKG was finally performed and he was transported to a hospital. There, he was diagnosed as suffering from a heart attack (myocardial infarction) with complete obstruction of his right coronary artery, causing parts of his heart muscle and tissue to die. 

Surgery was performed the next day in an attempt to clear at least part of the arterial blockage, with another surgical procedure to implant a stent inside his heart. The death of heart tissue and muscle is not reversible, and Boyd-Nicholson will have to take medication for the rest of his life. 

Attorney Quinn R. Eaton of Omaha, Nebraska filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Boyd-Nicholson’s behalf. On December 19, 2018, a $115,000 settlement agreement was executed and signed by the parties, resolving the case. See: Boyd-Nicholson v. Snodgrass, U.S.D.C. (D. Neb.), Case No. 8:15-cv-00424-RFR-MDN. 


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Related legal case

Boyd-Nicholson v. Snodgrass