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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jury Rules In Favor Of Prison Physician On Eighth Amendment Claim By Federal Prisoner

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that on February 21, 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of a prison physician rejecting a prisoner’s claim that his Constitutional rights were violated.  The two-day jury trial was held before United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, during the summer of 2011, Mitchell Wall, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Allenwood, White Deer, Pennsylvania, fell and fractured his back and was being treated by a prison physician. When Wall’s back did not improve, he received a follow-up consultation with a private neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon recommended Wall be given a lower bunk and Wall claimed he communicated that directly to the prison physician, but the physician still refused to give him the lower bunk. The prison physician disputed Wall’s claim.  On February 16, 2012, Wall fell while getting out of the upper-bunk, was transported to a local hospital, and had surgery five days later.

Wall’s lawsuit claimed that the prison physician’s failure to provide him with a lower bunk assignment as recommended by the private neurosurgeon amounted to deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.  The jury rejected that claim after deliberating for approximately one hour.

The prison physician was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Michael Thiel. 

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Civil Rights
Updated February 22, 2018