Tapeworm Death Suit Was Brought Too Late

     (CN) – A widower waited too long to go after Homeland Security after his wife allegedly died of a tapeworm infection in her brain while awaiting deportation, the 8th Circuit ruled.
     Immigration authorities arrested Maria Inamagua Merchan in Minneapolis in 2006 and transferred her to Ramsey County Adult Detention Center as it initiated removal proceedings.
     After a month in detention, Merchan complained to a doctor about severe migraine headaches and a rash that spread from her legs to her upper body.
     The doctor gave Merchan pain medication and hydrocortisone cream.
     After another month passed, Merchan fell off her top bunk bed, hit her head and again complained of a bad headache. The correctional officer gave her an ice pack.
     By evening, she was vomiting and unresponsive to commands.
     The doctors sent Merchan to the hospital where she died nine days later from neurocysticercosis, a tapeworm infestation that causes cysts in the brain. The disease is contracted by ingesting tapeworm eggs from human feces.
     In 2009, Merchan’s husband, Patricio Flores, and her uncle, Jose Encalada, sued the Department of Homeland Security and numerous doctors at the detention center, for violating Merchan’s equal protection rights and for medical malpractice.
     After a federal judge dismissed the case as untimely, the 8th Circuit affirmed Monday.
     “The magistrate judge did not clearly err in finding that plaintiffs’ claim accrued upon Inamagua’s death,” rather than the date on which Flores received his wife’s medical records from Ramsey County, the decision states.
     “In his April 10, 2006, letter, plaintiffs’ attorney advised Ramsey County that he represented Flores and explained that Inamagua had complained of headaches and lost weight while detained, that she had fallen out of her bunk and thereafter displayed symptoms of a head injury, and that Detention Center staff observed her for four hours before she was transferred to a hospital,” Judge Roger Wollman wrote for a three-member panel. “Plaintiffs thus knew of Inamagua’s injury and reasonably should have known of its cause in the days following her April 3, 2006, hospitalization. The information available to them on April 12, 2006, was sufficient to form the factual basis of plaintiffs’ administrative claim.”
     Merchan’s family also cannot advance medical malpractice claims because they “have failed to show any excusable neglect for their failure to comply with the statute’s time limits,” Wollman wrote. “Despite plaintiffs’ arguments to the contrary, they possessed sufficient medical records and information to obtain the expert affidavits and serve them in a timely manner.”

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