1441 West Long Lake Rd., Ste. 310
Troy, MI 48098
Phone: (248) 644-6326
Plaintiffs sued a prison medical provider and a utilization management physician alleging deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
The decedent suffered from end-stage liver disease (ESLD) and several related complications of the disease. Several years after failing Hepatitis-C treatment, the decedent developed esophageal varices that required ligation banding on two separate occasions. The decedent also wanted a liver transplant and a Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS). The decedent subsequently died as a result of complications from hip surgery.
After the decedent’s death, his family (Plaintiffs) alleged that the medical provider failed to order follow-up specialist referrals to monitor the decedent’s ESLD and further alleged that the utilization management physician unreasonably denied referrals for consideration of a liver transplant and TIPS placement. Plaintiffs did not allege any wrongdoing in connection with the hip surgery and the decedent’s death. The trial court identified several questions of fact for a jury to decide, but later granted summary judgment based on new legal authority from the Sixth Circuit (Mattox v. Edelman) and de bene esse depositions. Plaintiffs appealed to the United States Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit, arguing that the trial court failed to draw inferences in favor of the Plaintiffs and applied the wrong legal standards to their claims.
A majority of the Sixth Circuit panel affirmed the trial court’s judgment in a 40-page opinion marked for publication. The opinion created new precedent on the issue of medical needs that are diagnosed by a physician and thereby mandate treatment. Specifically, the majority found that the defendant doctors were not deliberately indifferent under the Court’s new test because their medical judgment was reasonable and did not demonstrate the level of obduracy and wantonness required to prove a Constitutional violation. In addition to vindicating our clients, the majority’s opinion brings clarity to a complex issue that will benefit correctional medical providers throughout the Sixth Circuit for years to come.
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