Thursday, May 26, 2016

Suit Charges Jailed Alabama Man's Ulcer Ignored Until He Died

MAY 24 2016, 10:36 PM ET

The family of an Alabama man killed by a perforated ulcer while locked up for missing a child-support hearing has filed a federal suit alleging guards and medical staff at the jail ignored his screams of pain for a week.

Phillip David Anderson, 49, a father of four, was unable to keep down any food while he was held at the Tuscaloosa County Jail, the lawsuit charges. His stomach was distended when he was finally rushed to the hospital, where he died on the operating table, medical records obtained by the family show.

"Defendants rejected or belittled Mr. Anderson's constant begging for medical attention," the complaint says. "His screams in excruciating agony from his serious medical condition were met with demands that he keep quiet, or stop faking and malingering."

Anderson's son is suing his father's jailers, the county and the federal government, which funds the non-profit Whatley Health Services, which administers medical care at the facility.


According to the complaint, Anderson was in a car with his daughter when they were stopped at a roadblock, where officers discovered he had an outstanding contempt of court warrant in a child support case from 2013.

He was arrested and transferred to the Tuscaloosa jail, where he vomited the first meal he ate and was unable to eat again or empty his bowels, the lawsuit says.

The family's lawyer, David Schoen, said that as Anderson's condition deteriorated, other inmates called his relatives on his behalf to ask them to get help. When relatives called the jail, they were told Anderson was fine, Schoen said.

On Feb. 15, 2015, Anderson's condition deteriorated rapidly and he collapsed in the arms of fellow inmates who were helping him to the restroom, the complaint says. After attempts to revive him at the jail failed, he was taken to the hospital, still handcuffed, the court documents say.

Hospital records say Anderson was in "extreme condition" with a "massively distended" abdomen when he arrived. When attempts to resuscitate him in the emergency room failed, he was rushed to the OR.

Doctors opened him up and discovered a perforated duodenal ulcer. "He expired in the operating suite due to intractable shock," the medical examiner wrote in an autopsy report that said the ulcer was the cause of death.

"He simply could not survive the poison that ran through his system from the duodenal ulcer that had perforated at the jail," the lawsuit says. "Defendants subjected Mr. Anderson to nothing less than a slow sadistic torture that led to his death."

Fikes said that when the family arrived at the hospital — after being alerted by other inmates — a deputy told them that Anderson was just having some stomach trouble and would be fine. Minutes later, a doctor emerged to break the news that he would not make it, he said.


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