A 44-year-old man says Silverdale Detention Center's medical officials neglected to treat a fractured jaw that required immediate surgery after another inmate hurt him during a fight earlier this year.
Todd Russell is asking for $500,000 from CoreCivic, a private prison operator that has managed the Silverdale for Hamilton County since 1984, as well as the facility's medical provider, CorrectCare Solutions. His is the third legal complaint this year against CoreCivic and its partners, including a claim that a mother of four died after being pepper sprayed in the face, and a claim that Silverdale improperly put a seizure-prone man on a top bunk.
According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in Hamilton County Circuit Court, Russell arrived at Silverdale on Jan. 23 for new charges that triggered a probation violation. But an argument with another inmate "escalated into a violent confrontation" that left Russell with a fractured jaw, missing teeth and nerve damage, the suit says. Though Russell's wounds were "immediate and apparent to any casual observer," the suit says nobody at the facility responded to his requests for medical help.
CoreCivic declined to comment and a county official could not be reached for comment.
Nearly 24 hours later, the suit says, officials transported Russell to Erlanger hospital after a chance encounter with Jason Clark, the county corrections superintendent. There, the suit says, Erlanger staff told an accompanying CoreCivic guard that Russell needed immediate surgery, but the guard said Russell needed to return to Silverdale so officials could "make any decisions as to Plaintiff's medical care."
"The same employee made concerns within hearing of Plaintiff that she was nearing the end of her shift, and if plaintiff was admitted for the needed surgery, she would have to stay over the end of her shift," the suit says.
Russell returned to Silverdale, where he received Motrin for his injuries, the suit says. He received no other followup or saw a medical provider until five days later, on Jan. 29, the suit says. He had reconstructive surgery Feb. 1.
In the suit, Chattanooga attorney Robin Flores referred to Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz subpoenaing Silverdale officials and holding hearings in 2017 to get to the bottom of alleged medical mismanagement in some cases. According to court testimony, in one case a man entered the facility in April 2017 with bone cancer and a broken collarbone, told officials he didn't want chemotherapy because he and a doctor had worked out an alternative treatment plan, and then didn't receive follow-up treatment on his collarbone for several months because he was marked as refusing treatment.
"[CoreCivic], [CorrectCare Solutions] and the county had constructive and actual knowledge of the lack of medical care inmates received at Silverdale after the intervention of Judge Greenholtz," Flores wrote in the suit. "However, despite this knowledge, these same defendants continued their deliberate indifference toward the medical needs of inmates, which resulted in the same pattern of misconduct with [the CoreCivic employees] seen by the defendant."
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.