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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

State Prison Accused Of Medical Abuse

RENO (CN) - The son of an inmate who died in Ely State Prison says doctors there let his diabetic father "literally ... rot to death." James Cavanaugh Jr. claims in Federal Court that an unsigned order on his father's medical chart stopped all medications, including insulin. Cavanaugh developed gangrene in both legs and died after three years of agony, the lawsuit states.

"Given the profound and unmistakable smell of putrefying flesh, there can be no question that every medical provider and correctional officer in that infirmary was acutely aware" of his condition, says the suit.

Cavanaugh says doctors stopped all of his father's medications in 2003, and though insulin was "ordered sporadically," he did not receive any insulin at all, on which he was dependent, for at least three years.

The gangrene in his legs apparently led to dementia, according to the complaint, and Cavanaugh would not let people into his cell and refused all medications except for aspirin. Cavanaugh's family believes medicines were secretly crushed and put in his food for a brief period in 2002, but that practice was discontinued without explanation.

Although an order was sought to use force to move Cavanaugh from cell to cell to clean up excrement, trash, food and filth, no order was ever obtained to save his life, including forced medications, amputation or any other kind of treatment, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, it was ordered that Cavanaugh get morphine during the last four days of his life, but "it appears the order was ignored and Cavanaugh was left to suffer," the lawsuit states.

Cavanaugh's family's lead counsel is Marc Picker of Reno.

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