Trial starts over ‘grossly deficient’ prison medical care
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Trial began Tuesday in a federal lawsuit that accuses Louisiana prison officials of “grossly deficient” medical care policies that have caused death and suffering at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2015 on behalf of inmates represented by several advocacy groups. A trial expected to last as long as three weeks opened Tuesday. The suit says problems at the prison include too few doctors and nurses, and a lack of funding for adequate medical care.
The suit said delays in treatment in some instances have led to death.
The state has denied the suit’s allegations in court briefings.
The suit, updated in 2016, alleges “horror story after horror” story of deficient medical care: “A man denied medical attention four times during a stroke, leaving him blind and paralyzed; a man denied access to a specialist for four years while his throat cancer advanced; a blind man denied even a cane for 16 years.”
It also says prisoners are often reminded that they can be punished for “malingering” if they falsely declare a medical emergency. In court filings, the state acknowledges the warning but denies making arbitrary threats.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick is presiding over the trial.
Groups representing the prisoners include The Promise of Justice Initiative, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, the Advocacy Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.