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Court holds Department of Corrections is immune from liabilityt for failure to treat prisoner's multiple sclerosis

In Rusha v. Department of Corrections, the plaintiff attempted to sue the State of Michigan for refusing to treat his multiple sclerosis while he was imprisoned.  He argued that the failure constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" which violated his constitutional rights.  He argued that he suffered permanent harm as a result of the delay in treatment.  The Department argued that it was immune from liability, because Rusha didn't provide it with written notice of his claim within six months of suffering injury.  The trial judge refused to grant the Department summary disposition, holding that the statutory notice rule could not "trump" a constitutional right.

The Court of Appeals, with Judge Henry Saad on the panel, reversed the trial court and summarily dismissed Rusha's constitutional claim.  It ruled that the Michigan Supreme Court has determined that requiring notice within six months, whether the state suffered prejudice or actually had notice, "does not abrogate a substantive right" and that the notice requirement does not place an unreasonable burden on a victim of a civil rights violation.

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