CHICAGO (CN) - a federal judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit that claims prison medical staff insisted on using aspirin to treat an inmate with cancer, leaving him riddled with tumors today, because his condition was not life threatening.
Paul Parisi is an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum security prison in Illinois. His lawsuit states that he was diagnosed in 2001 with fibroneuroma, benign tumors on nerve cells.
Parisi had three tumors in 2003, and 60 this year, according to the complaint. But when Parisi first began suffering pain and requested treatment in 2003, he says doctors declined to treat him because his condition was not life threatening. Instead, the doctors allegedly tried to "help" Parisi with aspirin and ibuprofen.
He sued Wexford Health Sources, the prison's medical provider, and three individual doctors - Parthasaraty Ghosh, Liping Zhang and Tonya Williams - for subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment.
U.S. District Judge William Hibbler refused the individual doctors' motions to dismiss.
Parisi has alleged more than a dispute over treatment, according to the court, and that "the defendants distort his allegations, stripping them from their context and ignoring allegations that defeat their argument."
One can reasonably infer from the complaint that the doctors made "only band-aid treatments," Hibbler wrote, adding that "a doctor who treats an inmate with cancer by prescribing only aspirin plainly does not provide adequate medical treatment."
More inquiry is necessary to determine whether Parisi merely disagreed with the doctors' course of treatment, or if the doctors were deliberately indifferent to his complaints of pain.
The doctors also argued that Parisi's claims are barred by the statute of limitations because he first requested treatment over seven years ago. But Hibbler said this argument "completely lacks merit."
"The defendants' continued refusal to treat Parisi's alleged serious medical condition constitutes a continuing violation marking 'a fresh infliction of punishment that caused the statute of limitations to start running anew,'" he wrote, citing precedent.
Because Parisi made no allegation that a corporate policy contributed to his allegedly inadequate medical care, however, Hibbler dismissed his claim against Wexford. "A corporate entity acting under color of state law is not vicariously liable for the misdeeds of its employees," the Oct. 17 decision states.
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