Home / Blog / Inmate Death Shows Prison Health Care Provider Was Negligent And May Be Liable

There are far too many instances where prisoners’ lives are changed
forever or die as a result of negligent medical care while incarcerated.
Earlier this year, news of the Seventh Circuit ruled 6-4 that an Indiana
prison healthcare provider may have been negligent and now liable for
allowing an inmate, Nicholas Glisson, die in just four short weeks of
entering the Indiana state prison system for an eight year sentence. The
50-year-old inmate relied on a feeding tube and allegedly died of starvation
and renal failure in 2010. His case is gaining momentum for review again.

Glisson had complicated medical needs as a result of laryngeal cancer.
He was serving a felony drug charge sentence and convicted for transferring
two Oxycontin pills to an informant. At sentencing, doctors urged the
judge to place Glisson on house arrest, saying that he was unlikely to
survive incarceration. According to court records, the judge disregarded
these warnings.

Family says Glisson was nervous to start his sentence after his cancer
treatments and surgery left him weak and without several facial features
making it difficult for him to speak and eat. Radiation treatment also
left his neck too weak to support his head, so he needed a brace that
would never show up at the prison, to hold his head up so he could breathe.
Despite his extensive medical needs, no prison medical staff reviewed
his case or evaluated him until 24 days after his arrival.


Often, prison inmates who are ill suffer, are neglected, and refused appropriate
medical treatment (for both physical and mental health). There are a large
number of prison deaths each year that happen as a result of maltreatment
similar to Glisson’s.

“Had a physician looked at something resembling a complete chart,
he would have seen that Glisson had no history of psychosis, and he might
have considered, as the post-mortem experts did, the more obvious possibility
that lack of oxygen and food was affecting Glisson’s mental performance,”
U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood said, writing for the en banc Seventh Circuit’s
6-4 majority.

An inmate who is the victim of wrongful death or medical malpractice (or
his or her family in the case of death) has the right to justice and should
not suffer in silence. Across the country, states and facilities have
settled out of court for hundreds of thousands of dollars, precisely because
they knew they were negligent under the law or that they had violated
an inmate’s civil rights.

At Wagner Reese, we understand that prisoners can be very vulnerable to
those who care for them as they repay their debt to society, and we know
all inmates have a constitutional right to appropriate medical care. If
you have lost a family member as a result of negligent medical care inside
a prison, we can help you to ensure your family does not have to suffer
financial burdens while you grieve and mourn your loved one. Talking to
our experienced attorneys can be the beginning of finding justice for
your family. Call our
jail and prison death lawyers
at (888) 204-8440 for your FREE consultation.