Inmate's Heart Failure May Cost N.J. Doctors
(CN) - New Jersey prison doctors must face claims that they left an inmate suffering from congestive heart failure and kidney stones to die in his cell, a federal judge ruled.
Eli Endl had complained to a nurse of chest-cavity pain from his shoulders to below his abdomen while jailed at Northern State Prison in Newark, N.J., on the night of March 21, 2010, the complaint states.
Though the nurse gave Endl 650 mg of Tylenol 20 minutes earlier, there had not been a subsequent medical checkup, Endl's family claims.
Indeed, Endl needed medical attention for bilateral flank pain, tenderness and chest pain the next day, and visited the office for cough, wheezing, and "bronchitis-c/o cough with excessive sputum and blood" two days later, according to the complaint.
The family says Endl had been misdiagnosed, however, and that a corrections officer found Endl unresponsive in his cell at about 9 p.m.
Endl died the next day. The 2012 complaint filed by his parents, Susan and Anthony Endl, names as defendants the state, its Department of Corrections, the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, and affiliated officials and medical staff.
U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty pared down the action on March 13, finding that Susan, the sole administrator of Eli's estate, alone can sue on the inmate's behalf.
Susan has adequately alleged that the individual medical defendants deprived Endl of his constitutional rights while acting under color of state law, according to the ruling.
"The SAC does allege that all of the individually named medical providers physically worked on the premises of Northern State Prison," McNulty wrote, abbreviating second amended complaint. "It alleges that [University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey] UMDNJ contracted with New Jersey to provide 'medical care and attention, and health and hospital services' to inmates at Northern State Prison. It alleges that these medical providers were 'charged with the responsibility of providing medical care and attention to inmates at Northern State Prison,' including Eli Endl. It alleges that Eli Endi required medical care from March 22, 2010 to March 25, 2010, was denied or deprived of the proper and necessary care and attention by those responsible for providing it, and as a result sustained significant pain and suffering and died. Under the circumstances, that is enough."
McNulty dismissed a claim that the defendants deprived Endl of his civil liberties, as well as a municipal-liability claim under the 1978 Supreme Court decision Monell v. Department of Social Services of N.Y.
New Jersey and its Department of Corrections are also both immune from suit under the 11th Amendment, according to the ruling.
The medical defendants meanwhile failed to show that the Endls did not comply with New Jersey's Affidavit of Merit Statute, the court found.
The Endls claim the defendants deprived their son of adequate medical care by failing to follow up on his initial complaint of chest-cavity pain, and misdiagnosing congestive heart failure, kidney stone-related pain, and respiratory infection as bronchitis.
The defendants also allegedly failed to diagnose potential aortic dissection and Marfanoid symptoms; timely treat a dissecting aortic aneurysm; and address prior diagnoses of schizophrenia.