View Full Version : Lawsuit-Inmates Death-Correctional Medical Services

08-21-2005, 06:11 AM
Publication:Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Date:Sunday, August 21, 2005 ; Section:Arkansas; Page:19

Inmate’s relatives file suit in death

Medical treatment inadequate, kin say


A doctor who recently left his job as medical director at the state’s prison for women in Newport was so incompetent and indifferent to patients’ needs that he caused an inmate’s death last year, according to a federal lawsuit.

In the negligence lawsuit filed last week in Little Rock, Larry Morris Sr. of Rosston in Nevada County blames Dr. Craig Bardell, 54, for the Oct. 23, 2004, death of his 47-yearold wife, Virginia Morris. The mother of two grown sons died seven months into a 10-year sentence for a conviction of possessing and selling crack cocaine.

The suit also names as defendants a registered nurse, Cheryl Pigg, who worked under Bardell at McPherson Unit in Jackson County; and Correctional Medical Services, the St. Louis-based company that employed Bardell and that has been the target of numerous lawsuits across the country alleging improper inmate care. At least 199 cases have been filed against the company in the Eastern District of Arkansas, according to federal court records.

One lawsuit, settled in November 1997, involved the July 29, 1995, death of a diabetic inmate at the Pulaski County jail, where the company then provided medical care. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette f iled a successful lawsuit in 1995 against the sheriff ’s office to get access to the company’s medical guidelines.

The company currently provides medical services to more than 13,000 Arkansas inmates under a $38 million contract. With contracts in 26 other states, the company is responsible for the health care of more than 212,000 prisoners nationwide, according to the lawsuit filed last week.

The company "has a history and a reputation of customarily cutting corners in prisoner health care to maintain high prof its," the lawsuit contends. It claims that the company trained its medical personnel at McPherson "to be deliberately indifferent" to prisoners’ health needs.

"If we believed that to be true, they would not be our medical contractor," said Dina Tyler, spokesman for the state Department of Correction, which is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. "Our inmates are getting pretty good medical care."

Bardell previously worked as medical director of a women’s prison in Pennsylvania where, according to a lawsuit settled in May for $2.15 million, a 26-year-old woman died in 2002 from an asthma attack after he withheld her medication.

According to the Arkansas lawsuit, through which Virginia Morris’ widower, two sons and seven siblings seek monetary damages and funeral expenses, Morris was on medication for high blood pressure when she began serving her sentence at the McPherson Unit on April 1, 2004. Prison records show she was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 190 pounds, indicating a weight problem, as well.

The suit says that after Bardell took away the inmate’s blood pressure medication, other problems soon developed.

Despite her repeated pleas for treatment, she was ignored or at best given inadequate treatment by various medical staff, with the doctor himself refusing to see her for months, the suit contends. Ultimately, according to the lawsuit, she died from ailments that could have been successfully treated had they been addressed early enough.

Bardell couldn’t be located to be asked for comment. His telephone number in Newport has been disconnected. He also no longer is associated with Correctional Medical Services, company spokesman Ken Fields said.

Fields denied allegations by Little Rock attorney John Hardy, who f iled the lawsuit, that the company was negligent in hiring Bardell because it "should have known of his disastrous record while medical director of the state Correctional Institute at Muncy, Pennsylvania. It should have known that Dr. Bardell had previously caused serious injury and death to female inmates because of his negligence and/or intentional acts. CMS also knew that Dr. Bardell had lost his license to practice medicine in Pennsylvania and [pleaded] guilty to a federal charge of Medicare fraud."

Court records show that, after Bardell pleaded guilty in 2001 to federal Medicare fraud charges, the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine eventually suspended his medical license for f ive years, retroactive to Nov. 6, 2002, with the suspension stayed in favor of five years’ probation.

Documents from the Arkansas State Medical Board show that while living in Pottsville, Pa., Bardell applied for a medical license in Arkansas on Oct. 2, 2003, saying he intended to work at the Newport prison. He was issued a temporary medical license on Dec. 22, 2003. In February 2004, the board g ranted him a permanent license after the Department of Correction acknowledged being aware of his prior conviction and verified his employment.

Fields declined to comment on specific allegations in the lawsuit because the company had not yet been served. He said he also could not "speak to specifics of any individual physicians. But I can tell you records are thoroughly checked whenever physicians are identif ied as potential providers of services in correctional facilities."

Tyler said that Bardell, who "was properly credentialed," left his job about a month ago "of his own accord." Bardell wasn’t forced to leave because of complaints about him from inmates or anything having to do with the quality of care under his leadership, she said.

"We have complaints against any doctor and every correctional officer," Tyler said. "This is a complaining population." :angry:

Tyler said that the department was aware of Bardell’s criminal record, but that "it was over some recordkeeping, not quality of care." :eek:

In recounting Virginia Morris’ declining health, the lawsuit says that just a month into her incarceration, she developed a rash. That apparently prompted a change in her medication, to which she reported suffering "adverse effects" later the same day.

Within days, without the medicine that had been prescribed before she entered prison, her blood pressure rose, the suit says, adding that she also developed badly infected boils under her chin that soon spread elsewhere on her body. In a matter of weeks, the suit says, her blood sugar level became elevated, she developed a high fever, she began throwing up and her heart rate became dangerously high.

When Bardell finally examined Morris on Aug. 30, 2004, noting that she had no bowel sounds and had been nauseated and throwing up for 24 to 36 hours, with a heart rate of 130, he accused her of "laxative abuse," the lawsuit states.

By Sept. 1 , it says, her abdomen was "grossly distended" and she complained of "excruciating pain," but Bardell ordered nurses to withhold medicine.

By the time Bardell decided to transfer Morris to the emergency room a few miles away at Newport Hospital on Sept. 3, "she was jaundiced, lethargic, tachycardic, severely dehydrated and had slurred speech," and she suffered numerous other health problems, the suit says.

Seven hours later, she suffered a heart attack and showed no pulse. She was revived and flown by helicopter to University Hospital in Little Rock, where the lawsuit says "it was discovered that Ms. Morris had suffered severe brain damage and had an extremely poor diagnosis."

On Sept. 23, after again having no pulse and being revived, she was "essentially in a vegetative state with no chance of recovery," the suit says.

Transferred back to the prison’s health unit from the hospital on Oct. 20, she died three days later at a Little Rock rehabilitation center, a day after being discharged from prison under the department’s Compassionate Release program for gravely ill inmates.

The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele.

08-26-2005, 12:47 PM
When will enough be enough, I am sick and tired of the ADC neglecting or abusing inmates to their death. Does ANYONE want to work to stop this. If they get tired of hearing the "complaining" maybe they will actually do something. People, Officials need to know about this and many other issues with the ADC, we need to get information together to start a massive petition for the ACLU, Governor and other local officials. It might be the only way to save them from further abuse. PM me if interested.

08-30-2005, 07:31 PM
"We have complaints against any doctor and every correctional officer," Tyler said. "This is a complaining population."

Ugh...I have to tell you this article didn't get to me until the quote I listed above. My fiance is serving time in Arkansas and is paralyzed from the waist down. He is there due to the same accident that paralyzed him and killed another young man. The point is, being a parapalegic, he has very specific medical needs for things as simple as going to the bathroom. The story is too long to tell in this post, but to say that he has not been given adequate or even basic medical care is an understatment! He is not even supplied with the main items he needs to take care of his regular bathroom care, never mind his more complex medical issues. When this time is over I will have plenty to say, but for now, I want him to be able to do his time and get out without being earmarked as a "complainer". This is where they really have us by the *alls!

08-31-2005, 08:50 PM
they can label me a complainer, I dont care. when you get bad service at a restaurant you complain. when you get bad customer service on the phone or in person, you complain. Thats what people do to erradicate a problem. I have never been much of a "complainer" until now. But I refuse to even say I am complainer. I am an activist for fairness, the inmates can't do much without fearing retaliation. But someone has to make these people aware that they can not get away with what they do. I have written letters to the ADC, the Arkansas ACLU, the wardern of EARU (brickeys) and the governor. I will continue to do so until I get a response, explanantion or solutions.
But I do understand your side of things to. It would be difficult for you to mention abuse generically with his circumstances.