Former Prisoner’s Lawsuit Against Jail Dismissed

SNOW HILL — A federal judge earlier this month completely dismissed a civil suit filed by a former Worcester County Jail prisoner against the facility, its administrators and certain members of its medical staff, claiming he was cruelly and maliciously denied medical treatment.

Last March, James A. Stanley, a prisoner who was extradited to Worcester County from Colorado in 2011, filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Worcester County Jail, Wardens Garry Mumford and Kathleen Green and certain members of the jail’s medical staff alleging he was denied medical treatment for chronic illnesses and other ailments including multiple sclerosis during his trip across the country and later during his seven-month stay in Worcester before being transferred to a state facility.

In the suit, Stanley alleged he was diagnosed with MS during a stay in a correctional facility in Colorado after suffering numerous seizures, loss of vision and other debilitating symptoms. Stanley was diagnosed and treated for MS including prescriptions, tests and evaluations while in the Colorado correctional system. In 2011, Stanley was extradited to Worcester County on the way to his ultimate destination at the Eastern Correctional Institute in Somerset County.

In the civil suit, Stanley alleged he was denied medical treatment during his extradition to Maryland despite Worcester officials having advanced knowledge of his condition. Stanley alleges in the complaint the trip took 12 days practically non-stop through 38 states during which he continued to have seizures and episodes of lost vision.

Once he arrived at the Worcester County Jail, Stanley was examined by the facility’s medical staff and was prescribed some of the same medicines doctors in Colorado prescribed to at least control his seizures and episodes.

In summary, Stanley claims in the suit that the Worcester County Jail extradited him from Colorado to Maryland despite advanced notice of his medical conditions. He alleged in the suit he was denied medical treatment during the drive across the country, which he described as non-stop. In addition, Stanley claimed the Worcester County Jail improperly denied neurological treatment for his seizures and his MS for seven months.

However, after reviewing the allegations spelled out in the suit, U.S. District Court Judge George Russell III last week issued an opinion denying Mumford and Green had any wrongdoing in the handling of Stanley’s medical conditions while he was at the Worcester County Jail and also dismissed any allegations the medical staff was negligent in his treatment while under their care.

“Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need requires proof that, objectively, the prisoner plaintiff was suffering from a serious medical need and that, subjectively, the prison staff were aware of the need for medical attention but failed to either provide it or ensure the needed care was available,” the judge’s opinion reads.

The main focus of Stanley’s grievance is that his diagnosis was questioned and he disagreed with the methodology utilized to revisit his diagnosis. According to the judge, there is no demonstration that all treatment has been withdrawn for malicious reasons, or that Stanley has suffered harm as the result of the alleged decision to question his diagnosis.

“The court is sympathetic with Stanley’s frustration regarding the quality of care received and the timeliness of providing needed consultations with neurology specialists,” the opinion reads. “Notwithstanding that frustration, however, the complaint does not support a finding that the care provided by the medical defendants has amounted to an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”

With respect to Mumford, the plaintiff claims as warden of the Worcester County Jail, Mumford “is always responsible in all acts of the local facility.” According to Stanley, Mumford made it clear to him the county did not have the funds to pay for his treatment and that a transfer to state custody would result in treatment because the information regarding his diagnosis would follow him.

“Stanley’s claim against Mumford is based on the theory of respondeat superior,” the judge’s opinion reads. “Mumford’s knowledge of Stanley’s medical condition and his alleged statements regarding costs are insufficient to establish supervisory liability. Mumford’s motion to dismiss will be granted.”

In the complaint, Stanley alleged Green, as the facilitator for the jail’s medical program, prevented him from getting the attention from specialists citing costs restraints, and further suggested Green buried his case file in retaliation for filing the suit against the facility. However, the judge ruled otherwise.

“There is no allegation that Warden Green interfered with medical treatment described for Stanley, nor is there a claim that she has facilitated proper treatment,” the judge’s opinion reads. “Stanley’s retaliation claim also fails. Thus, the claims against Warden Green Will also be dismissed.”