Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Northern California Judge rules prisoner's medical care was adequate

Pelican State Bay Prison image from the prison's website.
Northern District of California Judge Susan Illston ruled in favor of a group of doctors and nurses sued by former prisoner Sam Wesley Jr. for allegedly depriving him of medical care while he was incarcerated.

According to Wesley, when he was at Martinez Detention Facility and later San Quentin State Prison, the prison doctors prescribed him methadone for pain.  When he was transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison (PSBP) on May 13, 2008 , Dr. Clair Williams took him off methadone and prescribed him Tylenol 3 (which contains codeine). A month later Nurse Shirley Skinner reduced his Tylenol 3 prescription to one tablet a day for a week until another pain reliever became effective.  After medical personal saw Mr. Wesley walking and moving without pain his painkillers were cut outright.

The claim is for failure to provide medical treatment which constitutes "Cruel and Unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment and is actionable under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.  This requires a showing that there was an objectively serious deprivation of care by a person with a sufficiently culpable state of mind.  Judge Illston found that Mr. Wesley failed to demonstrate either element because he was simply in a dispute about his treatment.  He sought and obtained treatment on a number of occasions, so there was no objective deprivation of care.

The court granted judgment for the defendants and awarded no relief to Mr. Wesley.  The Case is Wesley v. Sayre No. C 08-5035, and the opinion is below the fold.

Here is the opinion:
Wesley v. Sayre

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