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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: October 25, 2013

[ARCHIVED] Pierce County Wins Jail Lawsuit

TACOMA, WA – Yesterday, the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Civil Division won a lawsuit filed by a former inmate. The plaintiff accused the Pierce County Jail of medical malpractice, negligence and civil rights violations during his two-month incarceration at the Pierce County Jail in 2008, and asked for $1.9 million.

“We are taking strong stands against frivolous lawsuits,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “We’re successfully protecting the taxpayers’ money.”

On January 3, 2008, the plaintiff was arrested for DUI and had a blood alcohol of more than three times the legal limit. Jail staff treated the plaintiff for severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. On January 23, 2008, jail medical staff sent the plaintiff to Tacoma General Hospital, by ambulance, due to concerns surrounding his continued alcohol withdrawal. He was returned to the jail in stable condition two days later.

The plaintiff complained of peeling skin on his feet on January 29, 2008, and he was given daily foot soaks, antibiotics and wound care. Lab results indicated that the plaintiff had a MRSA infection on his foot and he was routinely treated with an antibiotic ointment. The condition appeared to be resolving and the plaintiff advised staff, prior to his release, that he had a follow-up appointment scheduled with his doctor.

The same day the plaintiff was released from jail, he went to the Emergency Room at Tacoma General Hospital, complaining of neck and back pain. He later mentioned he had a toe infection. Hospital staff treated the plaintiff’s toe and he was discharged in stable condition. The day after being discharged from the hospital, the plaintiff saw his regular foot doctor. His left big toe was subsequently amputated due to osteomyelitis.

Medical records indicate that the plaintiff had been diagnosed with a multitude of medical conditions during 2006 and 2007, and his doctor noted that he is a “non-compliant patient.” The plaintiff has had six toes amputated as a result of his poor health, alcoholism and diabetes. These amputations occurred both before and after his early 2008 incarceration.

The jury rejected all of his claims.


Heather Songer, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
[email protected]

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