Bankrupt Hospital Operator Reaches $ 6.5 Million Settlement In Arizona Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Suit With Estate Of Inmate Who Allegedly Received Negligent Care For Flu, Resulting In His Death
The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) operated Douglas State Prison. Corizon Health, Inc. and Corizon, Inc. were contracted to provide medical services at the prison. ADC allegedly had a history of failing to provide adequate health care to prisoners in its custody. Manuel Diaz, who had Hepatitis-C and a suppressed and damaged immune system, was incarcerated at the prison in October of 2013. Manuel was denied a flu vaccine for the 2013-2014 flu season. On Jan. 11, 2014, Manuel presented to the prison's infirmary with signs of flu and was given ibuprofen and told to drink water. Over the next several days, Manuel repeatedly returned to the infirmary but no action was taken other than prescribing additional ibuprofen and an inhaler. On Jan. 15, 2014, Manuel's condition had deteriorated further and Corizon employees referred Manuel for transfer to Southeast Arizona Medical Center (SEAMC), owned and operated by Community Healthcare of Douglas, Inc. and/or The People's Choice Hospitals, LLC.
At SEAMC, x-rays showed Manuel had pneumonia. Manuel was sent back to prison with prescriptions for Albuterol, Robitussin and Zithromax. By the evening of Jan. 15, 2014, Manuel's condition had rapidly deteriorated and Corizon staff checked the urgent intervention box on Manuel's forms but no additional treatment was provided. The following evening, Manuel was in poor condition and was transferred back to SEAMC. Upon arrival, Manuel was given Tamiflu, evaluated, and evacuated to St. Luke's Medical Center. At St. Luke's, Manuel tested positive for flu and was found to have severe lung and kidney disease. Manuel's condition deteriorated further and he died from complications of influenza on Jan. 24, 2014.
On Jan. 16, 2015, Manuel's mother Olga Diaz, on behalf of herself and Manuel's minor daughters M.O.D. and N.J.D., filed suit against Corizon, Community, People's Choice, Warden Alfred Ramos, ADC Director Charles L. Ryan, and numerous medical professionals employed by Corizon, Community and People's Choice inthe Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona. Notice of removal to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona was filed on June 30, 2015, and the case was assigned to Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt. Diaz asserted claims of violation of 42 U.S.C.S. $ S 1983 against Corizon, Corizon medical staff, Ramos, and Ryan. Diaz argued the prison defendants failed to provide adequate medical care and were deliberately indifferent to prisoners' medical needs, and their indifference resulted in Manuel's deprivation of rights secured by the Eighth Amendment. Diaz also argued the Corizon defendants breached their duty to provide competent medical care under the Eighth Amendment, 42 U.S.C.S. $ S 1983, and A.R.S. §§ 31-201, 41-1604(A) and 41-1608. Diaz asserted negligence and medical malpractice claims against Corizon, Community, People's Choice, and their named employees and agents. Diaz asserted the medical defendants breached their duty to provide timely, reasonable, appropriate and non-negligent medical care.
On Feb. 9, 2016, a joint motion to approve a settlement in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filed by Community Healthcare. Community, by and through an insurance policy issued by AIG naming Community as an insured, and Diaz reached an agreement whereby Diaz agreed to: (a) limit the potential liability of Community to Diaz; (b) accept assignment of claims from Community; (c) stipulate to judgment against Community in favor of Diaz in the amount of $ 6,500,000; and (d) provide a covenant not to execute on any judgment over and above $ 6,500,000 against Community's personal and/or business assets. On April 15, 2016, United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona Judge Brenda Moody Whinery entered an order approving the settlement.
For more information on the case, including counsel information, please see the complete summary on Lexis Advance: Olga Diaz, a married woman, on behalf of herself and all other statutory beneficiaries of Manuel Diaz, deceased v. Corizon Health, Inc., a Tennessee corporation; 2016 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3769
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