Private contract doctor is denied immunity by the Sixth Circuit after jail hanging
The family of Timothy Hughes sued jail authorities after her son hung himself in prison. He had a history of depression and had discontinued his anti-depressant on his own a year earlier. After multiple contacts with prison authorities, the medications were never reinsituted and apparently the psychiatrist did not arrange counseling for him.
The family's suit included as a defendant the psychiatrist who had contracted to provide medical services to jail inmates; the family argued that he had shown "deliberate indifference" to her son's medical needs. The physician argued that he should be entitled to the immunity avialable to governmental employees when they might be responsible for injuries. The Sixth Circuit reviewed the history of related federal court decisions and concluded that public policy did not support the grant of immunity to private contractors employed by governmental entities.