The state is paying $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by an inmate whose subcutaneous lymphoma was treated as psoriasis for the better part of three years — a publicly funded payout that hints at the liability created by what legislators have called a pattern of deficient medical care behind bars.The lawyers who crafted the case for ex-inmate Wayne World, Kenneth Krayeske and DeVaughn Ward, have three other medical-malfeasance lawsuits pending in court and are preparing four others, including at least two deaths, with letters coming in every week from family members of inmates whose medical conditions have worsened.
“The file is getting thick,” said Krayeske, whose depositions of doctors and nurses in the Department of Correction have revealed fundamental concerns about healthcare within the prison system’s own ranks.
In fact, the corrections department has flagged 25 cases, including eight deaths, in which the department has been sued or expects to be sued over the care provided by the contractor, UConn Health.Officials had a consultant review those cases and that expert found that collectively they evinced “medical indifference,” two sources who have seen the report told The Courant.
The state has fought hard to keep the report out of the Courant’s hands, winning a ruling in front of the Freedom of Information Commission that the report was protected by the attorney-client privilege.
The Republican leader of the Senate, Leonard Fasano of North Haven, has been denied the report, and the correction department, after a period of months and following a ruling by the attorney general’s office, only reluctantly gave a copy to the state auditors, who typically have immediate access to all of the documents at an agency. 'In their last audit, the examiners were critical of the relationship between the state prisons and UConn Health, saying the $100 million a year, no-bid contract lacked quality controls, performance benchmarks, and oversight.The agreement ended earlier this year, and the Department of Correction will now provide the service, hiring more than 600 UConn Health doctors, nurses, and technicians.
Believing the department wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of providing medical care to more than 13,000 inmates, the newly hired medical director resigned. Commissioner Scott Semple said he agreed the medical system needed to be more responsive to inmates’ medical conditions, and he has added for the first time a chief operating officer and two additional directors. ,Wayne World’s mother, Carrie, told lawmakers at a recent public hearing what World looked like when she went to see him three years ago: She said he was wrapped in gauze like a mummy, and that she could see through a hole in his palm. It would be nearly three years before he was properly diagnosed.
World, 39, was serving a 17-year sentence for manslaughter, according to state records. Because of his condition, he was granted medical parole and released early.In the settlement, signed Monday, the state denies any wrongdoing but acknowledged “the parties desire to avoid further litigation and controversy and wish to resolve” the case.