Lawsuits by prisoners against medical providers for malpractice are difficult to pursue and to win, both in Oregon and throughout the nation. The standards required generally boil down to the prisoner having to prove that the prison doctors and other prison employees acted with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's rights to proper medical attention in order to prevail on a federal civil rights action. However, in some instances, a plaintiff may also be able to prevail on a count of simple negligence, i.e., medical malpractice, under state law.
In the prison litigation context, there may be obstacles of qualified immunity that protect the state actors, including a doctor. It is thus imperative that the plaintiff obtain the services of an attorney experienced in such litigation in order to stay ahead of the curve. If the prisoner fails to obtain representation, he or she will be relegated to trying to conduct a complex legal puzzle with no legal expertise.
With all of that said, one recent filing is an example of a potential medical malpractice case that may have the ingredients to prevail. In this New Mexico case, some inmates have sued the private prison, its administrators and owners, and the prison doctor involved. The doctor is accused of making unauthorized rectal exams on young male patients for no good reason.
If such facts are adequately proven, then the plaintiffs may prevail on their Section 1983 Civil Rights claims. That is because such facts would constitute deliberate indifference. By the same token, the apparently intentional and wanton behavior would qualify not only to establish the negligence required for medical malpractice, but may also justify a substantial award of punitive damages.
The allegations include that the private prison administrators, guards and warden knew that the doctor was engaging in sexual assaults under the guise of medical treatment but they remained silent for fear that their funding and contract with the government would be jeopardized. The plaintiffs are represented by counsel so that they will have the benefit of a strong presentation. Allegations of sexual assault, if adequately proven with credible evidence, will sustain a similar action for damages in Oregon as well as any other jurisdiction.
Source: courthousenews.com, "7 Prisoners Say Doctor Sexually Abused Them", Victoria Prieskop, Feb. 18, 2015