FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2021
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB DEFENSE WINS ARIZONA CORRECTIONAL HEALTHCARE CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT AT JURY TRIAL IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
Deliberate Indifference 42 U.S.C. §1983 Claims
PHOENIX – Lori A. Metcalf and Nichole L. Cullen attorneys in the Scottsdale office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., obtained a complete defense verdict on behalf of a national healthcare provider in an in-person jury trial in Phoenix, Arizona.
The plaintiff, an inmate at the Arizona Department of Corrections, alleged the prison’s healthcare provider, and the former Director, failed to provide constitutionally adequate healthcare after plaintiff was assaulted by other inmates. The plaintiff alleged his left orbital and cheek bones were fractured during the assault and were not properly treated by the healthcare provider. Plaintiff claimed he should have been sent to an outside specialist, and because the fractures did not heal properly, he is now left with an asymmetrical and disfigured face, which will affect his future employment when released from prison. The plaintiff and his attorneys argued to the jury that plaintiff should receive $2 million in damages for pain and suffering and the need for future reconstructive surgery by a maxillofacial surgeon, as well as punitive damages. The plaintiff also asked for spoliation sanctions against the defendants as a result of missing x-rays taken after the assault.
The defense successfully established, through diagnostic reports and provider testimony, that the plaintiff’s left orbital and cheek bones were not fractured after the assault and all treatment provided was appropriate. Despite the Court allowing the jury to infer that the missing x-rays would have shown fractures, the defense used the plaintiff’s own false statements and other medical records to rebut the inference and explain to the jury that the x-rays would not have shown fractures to the left side of plaintiff’s face.
Continuing COVID-19 precautions in Arizona added additional challenges. The Court reduced the number of jurors to eight and they were spaced six feet apart. The panel was reduced to seven jurors when a juror became ill on the second day of trial. The jurors and counsel were required to wear masks at all times, including during jury selection, which made it challenging to effectively communicate to the jurors during opening statements and closing arguments. The masks also made it difficult to assess the jurors’ reactions and understanding of the information presented to them. Witnesses were allowed to remove their masks while testifying because they were behind plexiglass shields.
Thus far, QPWB’s results in both virtual and in person proceedings have not been negatively affected by the COVID pandemic.
# # #
Lori A. Metcalf is a partner in the Scottsdale, Arizona office focusing on medical malpractice defense, nursing home defense, construction claims, governmental liability defense and employment law. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University teaching courses on legal writing, oral advocacy and criminal justice. She served as a judge for the Phoenix Municipal Court for over 14 years. Ms. Metcalf received her law degree in 1991 from Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Nichole L. Cullen is an associate in the Scottsdale, Arizona office focusing her practice in the areas of medical negligence, nursing home liability, and professional liability claims. Her practice encompasses the areas of insurance defense litigation and insurance coverage and bad faith claims, and various types of catastrophic personal injury claims. Ms. Cullen represents the State and its contractors against constitutional rights claims in matters regarding federal civil rights violations; she is experienced with constitutional and public-policy issues including the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. She received her law degree in 2010 from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. is the largest minority and women owned law firm in the nation with more than 380 lawyers serving clients from 27 offices in the United States and abroad across a spectrum of industries in over 40 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.