jail cell

According to medical malpractice experts Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, the United States Supreme Court stated (in re Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 103, 97 S.Ct. at 290) that “deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment.” This is true “whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner’s needs or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed.”

However, in personal injury cases involving medical malpractice, the burden of proof is the same—regardless of civilian status. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant healthcare provider was negligent. In a recent case in Lockport, New York, the widow of a Niagara County Jail inmate is filing one such lawsuit.

46-year-old Daniel Pantera died in his jail cell on Christmas Day 2012. His widow, Dawn Pantera, is filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against Armor Correctional Health Services, as well as Doctor Steven C. Gasiewicz, who allegedly failed to treat her husband. The state report blamed Pantera’s death on “medical neglect and lack of medical and mental health care,” with the immediate cause of death being hypothermia due to the alleged cold temperatures in his solitary conferment cell. It further stated that Pantera should have been hospitalized. Another inmate, also seen by the same county jail doctor, died in his cell within days of Pantera’s death. The doctor stated, however, that “the cause of death is incorrect. It’s not hypothermia; it’s natural causes.”

Berkowitz and Hanna LLC knows that all people have the right to proper medical treatment, including those who have been arrested or incarcerated. This wrongful death case is certainly an interesting one to watch.

Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case. 

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