AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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When an inmate failed
to seek to obtain his medical records until just before the deadline to
designate an expert medical witness for his medical malpractice claim under
the Federal Tort Claims Act, his failure to designate an expert justified
staying discovery and then granting summary judgment to the defendant.
Fujita v. United States, #10-10258, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 4218 (5th Cir.).
A prisoner failed to show that the decision to forcibly medicate him with anti-psychotic drugs constituted deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The trial court had authorized the expenditure of funds for the prisoner to hire an expert for the purpose of making an assessment of the medical evidence, but the prisoner declined to do so. His failure to present expert witness evidence could not be overcome solely by the prisoner's presentation of his own sworn statement concerning his treatment. Aruanno v. Glazman, #07-2543, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 4154 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing a prison guard to testify about his experiences with prison fights as part of the evidence in a case that resulted in a prisoner being sentenced to death for murder. U.S. v. Jackson, No. 06-41680, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 25294 (5th Cir.).
A Pennsylvania inmate claimed that his Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection was developed while he was working in a prison's laundry, and he sued for allegedly unconstitutional working conditions. An expert witness offered by the prisoner who was an environmental scientist and not a medical doctor could not testify on the cause and nature of the prisoner's skin rashes, or that he suffered from a MRSA infection, and further proceedings would determine whether he could testify on the conditions present in the prison's laundry. While the prisoner's medical records could be used to establish that he had a MRSA infection, expert witness medical testimony was needed to establish that this condition was caused by prison laundry working conditions. Wolfgang v. Smithers, Civil No. 4:CV-03-167, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28597 (M.D. Pa.).
A detainee at a D.C. jail claimed that his rights were violated during his 12-month incarceration by being housed with chain smokers, along with poor jail air ventilation. His claims were rejected because he did not show either an actual or an imminent injury, but merely a "remote and speculative" injury. He did present an expert witness with the opinion that he would suffer a 55% increased risk of heart disease and 38 times the risk of lung cancer suffered by the average adult U.S. male. But, because the expert witness never tested the plaintiff, his report did not show the probability of such harm to the plaintiff. In the absence of any showing of an actual injury from the smoke exposure, the lawsuit was dismissed. Williams v. D.C., Civil Action No. 02-1641, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 76 (D.D.C.).
D.C. prisoner failed to show that he suffered violations of his constitutional rights during his exposure, during his seven-month confinement, to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The objective component of an Eighth Amendment claim was not satisfied because, while he had presented an expert witness on jail conditions, that expert was not a medical doctor, had not consulted with the inmate's doctors, and had not gone to the jail to take air samples or conducted any test on the plaintiff. The prisoner also failed to satisfy the subjective part of a deliberate indifference Eighth Amendment claim, since there was evidence that the jail had instituted an anti-smoking policy and engaged in efforts to improve air quality. Abdullah v. Washington, Civil Action No. 02-1642, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 59 (D.D.C.).
A prisoner's failure to hire an expert witness to show that his medical needs, arising from his heart condition, were "serious" did not require summary judgment for the defendants in a lawsuit for alleged deliberate indifference to his condition and delay in providing him with medication. The court ruled that a lay person would know that medical needs in connection with such a heart condition were serious. Bosco v. C.F.G. Health Systems, NO. 04-CV-3517, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 44314 (D.N.J.).
Former federal prisoner failed to show that a negligent response to his medical condition caused him to suffer a brain hemorrhage leaving him severely and permanently disabled. In upholding the verdict of a bench trial finding the U.S. government not liable for his injuries under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1346(b)(1), a federal appeals court ruled that an expert witness who seems to deny possession a relevant expertise does not have to automatically and by reason of that statement alone, be barred from testifying, and that experts are not always required to render a written report as a precondition to being permitted to testify. The court found that the clinical director at the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons' Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was properly allowed to testify that, in his opinion, a prison medical team at all times acted professionally and competently in the treatment of the prisoner, despite the fact that he failed to prepare an expert report prior to taking the stand, and at his deposition seemed to deny having a relevant expertise. The appeals court noted that it is the trial court's job to decide whether an individual is sufficiently qualified to testify as an expert, by virtue of training and experience, and based on the facts and circumstances of each case, so that the witnesses' own statement concerning whether he is an expert is not dispositive. The witness could, therefore, be properly allowed to testify as an expert in health care in federal prisons, "his modesty notwithstanding." Additionally, while Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B) states that disclosure of expert witnesses who are "retained or specially employed" to provide expert testimony in a case shall (except as "otherwise stipulated or directed by the court") be accompanied by a "written report prepared and signed by the witness," the witness in this case was not "retained or specially employed" to provide his testimony, but was, instead a person employed by the federal prisons and not a person who regularly gives expert testimony," so that the report requirement did not apply. Watson v. US, No. 05-6262 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 10526 (10th Cir.).
Court could not order defendants in inmate's federal civil rights lawsuit over alleged inadequate medical treatment to pay for a medical examination of the prisoner in order to provide him with an expert medical witness to testify against them, as he requested. The prisoner could, however, obtain a medical examination if he could pay for such an expert. Cabrera v. Clarke, No. 4:05cv3121, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 66761 (D. Neb.). [N/R]
Expert witness testimony that a federal prison staff had deviated from the accepted standards of medical care and that this deviation had caused a prisoner's death was necessary in order to hold the U.S. government liable for the death of a prisoner from a respiratory illness. In the absence of such evidence, the trial court properly dismissed a medical malpractice lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1346(b). Davis v. U.S., No. 04-5782, 143 Fed. Appx. 371 (2nd Cir. 2005). [N/R]
In lawsuit claiming that county failed to provide adequate medical care to mentally ill prisoners, a report by a consulting expert retained by the county to evaluate health services and programs at the county's jails was not protected from discovery under the work products doctrine protecting materials prepared in anticipation of litigation. The expert was not asked to investigate any particular claims but rather to help the county develop long range planning and analysis of its health care needs. There was no evidence that the county's outside litigation attorney was involved in or directed the preparation of the report. Mims v. Dallas County, No. 3-04-CV-2754, 230 F.R.D. 479 (N.D. Tex. 2005). [N/R]
Missouri prisoner failed to show objective proof that he was subjected to an unreasonably high level of second hand tobacco smoke while incarcerated. Trial court abused its discretion in excluding prisoner's expert witness on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, but this error was harmless in the absence of objective evidence concerning the level of second-hand smoke to which the plaintiff was exposed. Larson v. Kempker, No. 04-2220, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 7523 (8th Cir.). [2005 JB Jun]
Federal trial court properly granted judgment as a matter of law on federal civil rights claims and negligent training and supervision claims against Florida sheriff arising out of detainee's suicide after his requests to see a psychiatrist failed to be granted. Appeals court finds, however, that the trial court erred in also granting judgment for the sheriff on a state law vicarious liability negligence claim. Trial court acted within its discretion in excluding evidence of other suicides at detention facility, and testimony of plaintiff's suicide expert witness. Cook v. Sheriff of Monroe County, No. 03-14784, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 4014 (11th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB May]
Hemophiliac detainee was not entitled, in his lawsuit against county sheriff and jailer for allegedly failing to provide him with timely medical care for a nosebleed, to an extension of time to designate his expert witness. Trial court therefore properly excluded the testimony of the plaintiff's expert, and granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Summey v. Barker, No. 632A02, 586 S.E.2d 247 (N.C. 2003). [N/R]
Expert witness fees in federal civil rights cases are not recoverable by prevailing parties under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. v. Casey, 111 S.Ct. 1138 (1991).
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