by Anthony W. Accurso
A man disabled in a Louisiana jail privately operated by LaSalle Corrections has settled claims of neglect and mistreatment he suffered there and at another lockup the firm ran, accepting $405,000 for the months he allegedly spent in debilitating pain without treatment for his condition, further complicated by abusive treatment from jail staff.
Lane Carter was incarcerated in the Winn Parish Correctional Facility in July 2017 on counts of methamphetamine distribution and theft. The jail, managed by Ruston-based LaSalle Management Company, was earlier the site where a handicapped detainee was allegedly neglected and mistreated by staff of previous operator Corrections Corporation of America (now known as CoreCivic), leading to a 2018 settlement for an undisclosed sum. [See: PLN, Jul. 18, 2018, online.]
Carter was badly injured, too, falling in the shower in August 2017 from plastic milk crates zip-tied together in a jerry-rigged false floor to alleviate poor drainage. Days later, and seemingly for no reason, he was transferred to Jackson Parish Correctional Center (JCC), another facility managed by LaSalle.
At intake, JCC noted Carter was “very tender on the left side of [his] body and... peeing blood.” He attempted to see a medical provider several times using the sick call procedure. Over a week later, when he was seen, a nurse sent him to the local hospital, where he was diagnosed with “acute lumber and cervical radiculopathy, cervical strains and herniated disc... with neck pain... and sciatica—all trauma related.”
He was returned to the jail, where he was allegedly denied any treatment besides ibuprofen. Unsurprisingly, his condition worsened. He regressed to ambulating with a walker, and then he was confined to a wheelchair.
Meanwhile, he submitted more sick call requests with statements like “walking more than 25 feet is close to torture,” and “I CAN’T WALK!” But even after he was finally seen by a physician at the facility in early October 2017, no changes resulted in his “treatment” plan.
By this point, Carter was struggling with daily tasks. He couldn’t access recreation or visitation because there were no wheelchair ramps to those areas of the jail, and staff allegedly refused to make any accommodation for him. He was forced to shower in a plastic chair, after guards refused to allow his wheelchair in the shower. This resulted in another fall, after which he was transferred to Louisiana State University’s Shreveport Medical Center, where an MRI showed “one of the lumbar disc bulges... indenting [his] nerve root and his spinal canal.”
Back at the jail, guards would sometimes deprive him of his wheelchair for hours or days, he said, giving it to other prisoners. According to the lawsuit he filed, “[f]or many activities, he just gave up, but had no choice but to find a way to get to the restroom, or into his bunk to sleep or rest.” Forced “to crawl across the floor” to use the bathroom, “[a]t times, he urinated or defecated on himself if he was unable to access the facilities.”
Even court appearances were torture. JCC staff allegedly “threw him in and out of the vehicle in a ‘trust fall’... and the guards occasionally missed and dropped him”
In January 2018, Carter filed suit pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal court for the Western District of Louisiana, where his complaints were construed as a valid claim against Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ch. 126, §12101 et seq. That also let the Court exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Carter’s state-law tort claims against Brown and Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan.
On July 15, 2019, the Court accepted a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation denying Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. See: Carter v. Derr, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117416 (W.D. La.).
The parties then proceeded to reach their settlement agreement, and Carter voluntarily dismissed the suit in November 2020 in exchange for a payment of $405,000, including costs and fees for the New Orleans attorneys who helped him negotiate it, Casey Rose Denson of Casey Denson Law, LLC, and Kenneth Bordes. See: Carter v. Derr, USDC (W.D. La.), Case No. 3:18-cv-00068.
After his release, Carter finally got the surgery and physical therapy he had needed for over a year. However, he still cannot lift heavy objects, has difficulty walking and standing due to pain and numbness throughout his body, gained an “excessive amount of weight,” suffers from urinary incontinence, and can “no longer serve as a manager for a retail store as he had in the past.”
“It was from start to finish a really, really bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from,” said Carter, “and I was living it, and couldn’t wake up.”
Additional source: The Advocate
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Related legal case
Carter v. Derr
|Cite||USDC (W.D. La.), Case No. 3:18-cv-00068|