Inmate who suffered seizures after prescriptions withheld cannot show "deliberate indifference."
David Bruederle sued the Louisville Metro Government, alleging that its policy regarding prescription medicines caused him to suffer a seizure and multiple compression fractures in the spine, and was a violation of his civil rights. Inmates can challenge the medical policies of a jail or prison if they result in the infliction of "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. They must show, however, that the infliction of harm was caused by more than mere negligence: the actor(s) must be guilty of deliberate indifference to the inmate's medical needs.In Bruederle's very unsympathetic case, he was admitted to the jail following an assault charge and sought the administration of a number of narcotic pain medications which he was regularly taking by prescription. Jail employees claimed that they had processed his request (although no documentation could be found...) and that his pharmacy did not respond promptly. They also claimed that the request needed to be reviewed by a physician after confirmation by the pharmacy and that no physician was retained by the jail for weekend review.
No medications were issued to the inmate and he suffered a seizure two days after he was booked. Physicians determined that the seizure was a result of withdrawal of the medications.
The Court accepted the above claims and ruled that Bruederle could not show that any particular employee was guilty of deliberate indifference to Bruederle's legitimate medical needs. Correctional Medical Services, whom the jail authorities had contracted to provide services, was also deemed immune from claims of negligence. One would hope that if the inmate being booked needed a less stigmatized medication, it would have been provided when needed, and not when the private contractor found it convenient to provide services. Nevertheless, the standard should be the same and maybe this is another example of "bad facts making for bad law."