Friday, September 29, 2023
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Jail Medics Must Face Injured Inmate’s Claims

KNOXVILLE (CN) - A federal judge denied a jail medical contractor's motion to dismiss a claim that the company's indifference, combined with an alleged beating by jail guards, led to an inmate's coma and brain damage.

Ryan Mangum sued Sevier County, Tenn., First Med Inc. and county jail guards and nurses last year for excessive force, deliberate indifference to medical needs, and negligence.

Mangum says he was beaten so badly by jail guards while suffering alcohol withdrawal that he was put in a coma and later diagnosed with brain damage.

As described by U.S. District Judge Pamela Reeves in her opinion:

"Ryan Dale Magnum was arrested in July 2013 for DUI. While in jail, Mr. Mangum, who regularly drank half a gallon of vodka per day, began suffering severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. He hallucinated, was unable to speak coherently, grew anxious, and defecated and urinated on himself.

"Despite witnessing these symptoms and being told by Mr. Mangum's step mother that he was recently hospitalized after becoming unresponsive from detox, the medical staff at the Sevier County Jail failed to send Mr. Mangum to the hospital," Reeves continued. "At some point during his stay, Mr. Mangum alleges that he was severely beaten by the guards. Still, he alleges he was not sent to the hospital in a timely fashion. Once he was finally sent to the hospital, Mr. Mangum fell into a coma, and was diagnosed with numerous injuries including brain damage."

Mangum claimed in his lawsuit that he nearly died from the beating he received from the guards.

As for the nurses, he claims they ignored his obvious medical needs and only took him to the hospital when he "was found lying on the floor, covered in feces, incoherent, with shallow respiration, and a pulse of only 46 beats per minute," the ruling said..

Judge Reeves denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by First Med and nurses last week. She ruled that the contractor and three of its nurses must answer Mangum's claims in court.

"Accepting the facts pled as true, and making all inferences in the plaintiff's favor, this widespread deliberate indifference by First Med's employees to Mr. Mangum's serious medical needs supports the inference that First Med has failed to train its employees or has a custom of tolerating such behavior," Reeves wrote. "Furthermore, First Med was on notice of its potential constitutional violations. It has been sued numerous times in this district based on similar complaints."

Although First Med says Mangum didn't identify a constitutional violation against it, the contractor acts under the color of state law by providing medical care to county prisoners and detainees, Reeves said.

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