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Lawsuit filed against Lee County sheriff, jail medical provider

By Staff | Aug 12, 2009

A 27-year-old Bokeelia man filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and the jail’s medical provider, alleging that he walked into jail a healthy man and left paralyzed a month later.
The lawsuit filed by Brett Allen Fields against Scott and Tennessee-based Prison Health Services comes days after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is investigating the death of a Lee County jail inmate who was pepper sprayed in March.
Prison Health Services has been the target of lawsuits nationwide involving poor medical care.
Several obtained settlements, but an Idaho state jury awarded a 30-year-old state prison inmate and her 4-year-old son $3.6 million after she gave birth on a prison ramp and her baby was run over and now suffers from cerebral palsy.
In April 2007, a 37-year-old Tampa woman who gave birth over a Hillsborough County jail toilet accepted a $1.25 million settlement as a federal jury was deliberating her lawsuit. Her baby died.
John Van Mol, a spokesman for Prison Health Services, and Tony Schall, a spokesman for Scott, said they do not comment on pending litigation.
Fields’ lawsuit states he was booked into the Lee County jail on July 6, 2007, and requested medical attention four days later for an infected wound on his left arm. A nurse examined him and prescribed an antibiotic.
Two weeks later, on July 24, 2007, after the infection had not healed, Fields filled out an Inmate Medical Request Form, but it was ignored by the sheriff and medical staff, the lawsuit claims.
In early August, the lawsuit states, Fields began to suffer from severe back pains, difficulty standing up, numbness and weakness in his lower body.
According to the lawsuit, he pleaded with medical staff and sheriff’s employees, asking for medical help and saying he had not urinated in days, but his pleas were ignored.
The evening of Aug. 7, 2007, a nurse examined Fields and he told her of neurological problems and the physical symptoms, including numbness and weakness in his legs. She scheduled an exam for the next morning.
When he was examined by a physician’s assistant that morning, the lawsuit states, he could no longer walk and was confined to a wheelchair.

Aisling Swift is a staff writer for the Naples Daily News. Contact aaswift@naplesnews.com.