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Why is This Privately Operated Jail Being Sued?

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Corrections Corporation of America and Metro Davidson government are being sued for $5 million in damages due to the unexpected death of an inmate and a failure to provide prompt medical attention.

The inmate was at breakfast one morning while the corrections officer was conducting a head count. Very suddenly, she began to violently seize and foam at the mouth. Somehow, the inmate did not receive medical attention until the paramedics arrived 30 minutes after the jail staff discovered her seizing, despite the fact there was an in-house medical facility present. Even when the paramedics arrived, the staff told them they were “not permitted” access to the inmate immediately. An autopsy later revealed the inmate had died from an overdose on narcotics that are not allowed in the facility and that the facility has a responsibility to prevent inmate access to.


Although inmates in prisons and jails have been denied their freedom and full citizen rights, they still maintain their basic constitutional rights that neither the government or private corporate prison entities can legally violate. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that prisoners cannot be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, for which denial of medical treatment is considered cruel and unusual.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled many times that inmates should be given adequate medical treatments, specifically because inmates are not permitted to seek medical attention from outside sources. If a convicted inmate sustains an injury or, in this case, dies as a result of being denied proper medical treatment, the facility may be held liable for damages. Other examples of denial of medical treatments can include:

  • Refusing to provide proper prescription medication or treatments for inmates who have known medical conditions
  • Ignoring very obvious medical conditions
  • Failing to provide qualified medical staff to treat inmates
  • Interfering with an inmate’s access to medical treatment
  • And, in this case, delaying medical care for a serious condition

In Tennessee, by refusing to allow medical treatment, the facility or its medical staff may be engaging in “deliberate indifference” and by doing so, they are violating an inmate’s civil rights. This means the case can be held in a federal court.

Stanley A. Davis is a personal injury attorney who fights for victims of wrongful death and their families in Nashville, Tennessee.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Ephesians 1:7


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