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Michigan Verdicts

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Suit: Medical staff deliberately indifferent to prisoner injury

Amount:

$325,002

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Michigan

Venue:

Federal

Court:

U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan

Injury Type(s):

back-spondylosis; back-spondylolisthesis; back-bulging disc, lumbar; back-degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of; neck-spondylosis; neck-spondylolisthesis; neck-degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of; other-hamstring; other-spondylitis; shoulder-rotator cuff (supraspinatus muscle/tendon, tear)

Case Type:

Government - Prisoner Suit; Civil Rights - Prisoners' Rights; Constitutional Law - Eighth Amendment

Case Name:

Temujin Kensu v. Jeffrey C. Stieve, Joshua B. Buskirk, Panjak Malik, Mary Zamora, Howard V. Tyree, Susan McCauley, Joseph R. Burtch, MD, Jeffrey Bomber, Charles Turner, William Borgerding, Lloyd Rapelje, Russell Vittitow, Jeannie Stephenson, Ramesh Kilaru, Prison Health Services Inc., Correctional Medical Services Inc. and Corizon Inc., No. 13-CV-10279

Date:

March 28, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Temujin Kensu (Male, 40s)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Solomon M. Radner; 1-800-LAW-FIRM, PLLC; Southfield, MI, for Temujin Kensu ■ Ari Kresch; 1-800-LAW-FIRM, PLLC; Southfield, MI, for Temujin Kensu

Defendant(s):

Mary Zamora, 

Corizon Inc., 

Panjak Malik, 

Lloyd Rapelje, 

Ramesh Kilaru, 

Charles Turner, 

Jeffrey Bomber, 

Susan McCauley, 

Howard V. Tyree, 

Russell Vittitow, 

Jeffrey C. Stieve, 

Joshua B. Buskirk, 

Jeannie Stephenson, 

William Borgerding, 

Joseph R. Burtch, MD, 

Prison Health Services Inc., 

Correctional Medical Services Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Douglas G. Powe; East Lansing, MI, for Mary Zamora, Lloyd Rapelje, Charles Turner, Susan McCauley, Russell Vittitow, Jeffrey C. Stieve, Jeannie Stephenson, William Borgerding

Facts:

In July 2009, plaintiff Temujin Kensu, a prisoner in his 40s, was an inmate serving a 20-year sentence at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Saginaw. During this time, Kensu suffered from degenerative disc disease, re-injured a pre-existing partial rotator cuff tear in his right arm and developed a right hamstring rupture. Kensu claimed the failure of the correctional facility to allow him to seek treatment recommended by his orthopedist caused his injury to worsen. Kensu sued Warden Lloyd Rapelje and the treating medical staff of Saginaw Correctional Facility including, Jeffrey C. Stieve, Joshua B. Buskirk, Panjak Malik, Mary Zamora, Howard V. Tyree, Susan McCauley, Joseph R. Burtch, M.D., Jeffrey Bomber, Charles Turner, William Borgerding, Russell Vittitow, Jeannie Stephenson and Ramesh Kilaru, as well as their employers Prison Health Services Inc., Correctional Medical Services Inc. and Corizon Inc., for violations of prisoner's rights. Corizon, Prison Health Services and Correctional Medical Services along with their employees Ramesh Kilaru, Jeffrey Bomber, Joseph Burtch, Panjik Malik, Howard Tyree and Joshua Buskirk were dismissed from the suit. The case proceeded against the remaining defendants. Kensu alleged there was deliberate indifference to his medical needs, which violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and caused him to sustain severe physical pain. Kensu specifically alleged the correctional facility and medical staff refused to provide him with treatment, such as prescription pain medication and arthroscopic surgery for his rotator cuff injury or a support brace for his hamstring injury. Kensu maintained there was no legal or medical basis to deny his treatment. The defense denied deliberate indifference. The defense maintained that it was the opinion of SCF's medical staff that Kensu did not require surgery or prescription medication. The defense argued that Kensu was provided with adequate treatment in the form of exercises and Tylenol. The defense contended that Kensu was combative and unreceptive to treatment for his injury. Testimony was presented that Kensu often missed scheduled medical appointments. Defense counsel entered into evidence Kensu's appointment schedule and medical records. Counsel for Kensu disputed the accuracy of the facility's appointment schedule, alleging that staff fabricated many of Kensu's absences. Kensu's counsel referred to a recent instance within the records where Kensu was found absent with no notation that he had been in court on that day. A defense motion for summary judgment was denied prior to trial.

Injury:

In 1998, Kensu initially developed a high-grade partial rotator cuff tear at the glenohumeral ligament and acromioclavicular (AC) joint with impingement on the supraspinatus tendon of his dominant right shoulder. Kensu believed he re-injured the tear in 2009. In July 2009, Kensu underwent a right shoulder MRI. In August 2009, he was seen by an orthopedist who confirmed the partial tear and recommended arthroscopic surgery consisting of an acromioplasty. Kensu was unable to undergo surgery prior to trial. Kensu suffers from degenerative lumbar spinal diseases, including spondylitis, spondylosis, spondylothesis, disc degeneration, spinal stenosis and disc bulging. In 2012, he sustained a right hamstring rupture. Kensu complained that his rotator cuff tear had not healed properly, resulting in constant pain, difficulty sleeping and weakness. Kensu believed his condition would be resolved with surgery. Kensu also complained of lumbar spine pain so severe that it affects his ability to urinate.

Result:

The jury found that Stieve, McCauley, Zamora, Borgerding and Rapelje were deliberately indifferent to Kensu's serious medical need. Kensu was awarded $325,002, including punitive damages totaling $285,000 ($150,000 in punitives from Stieve, $70,000 in punitives from McCauley and $65,000 in punitives from Borgerding).

Temujin Kensu: $285,000 Personal Injury: Punitive Exemplary Damages; $40,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages; $2 Personal Injury: nominal damages

Trial Information:

Judge:

Victoria A. Roberts

Trial Length:

5  days

Trial Deliberations:

5.5  hours

Jury Vote:

Unanimous

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.