- May 6, 2020
INTERNAL LEGAL MEMORANDUM OF LAW
INTERNAL LEGAL MEMORANDUM OF LAW 7
INTERNALLEGAL MEMORANDUM OF LAW
Re:Ray Thomson Inmate Treatment
Ourclient Mr. Ray Thomson is serving a ten-year sentence in the FederalPrison after being convicted of robbery charges. Notably, Thomsonsuffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, a health condition in whichthere is undue pressure on the nerves in wrist thereby causingnumbness and pain in the hands. For the period Thomson has served hisjail term, he has had access to at least three prison doctors everytwo weeks. Currently, the kind of treatment administered to Thomsonentails over the counter pain medication which is meant to ease thesporadic pain and splints for his wrists and hands. However, thedoctors are of the opinion that if the splints do not serve theintended purpose, they are open to considering other options such assurgery. Even though some doctors consider surgery to be the firstoption when treating carpal tunnel syndrome, the current prisondoctors attending to Thomson consider surgery to be a secondalternative option. This is the reason the doctors did not rush toconduct a surgical procedure before they had exhausted the over thecounter medication option. On the other hand, Thomson is for amedication known as Vicodin to ease his pain and then undergosurgery. However, his request is declined. According to Thomson, therefusal by medics to grant his wish amounts to a violation of theEighth Amendment to the constitution of the United States. TheEighth Amendment protects the rights of the prisoners to accessproper and reasonable medical care. In essence, prisoners under theNew York State Department of Corrections have a right to accessquality medical services. In particular, they are entitled to certainmedical treatments if medically necessary.
Dothe denial of Thomson Ray`s desired medication and surgery constitutea cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendmentto the United States Constitution?
Thedecision by the prison doctors to deny Thomson his desired medicationand surgery may qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. As thepatient, Thomson’s Eighth Amendment’s rights appear to be havebeen violated by the refusal by doctors to grant his desiredmedication. However, on a closer look, it appears that the doctorshave valid reasons as to why they have preferred over the countermedication as opposed to performing surgery per Thomson`s wishes. From the case, the prison doctors attending to Thomson are of theopinion that his current condition does not warrant a surgicalprocedure. As such, Thomson`s choice of medication and surgery arepremature procedures that will have to wait until the doctors aresatisfied that the splints they have administered are no longereffective.
Byits terms, the Eighth Amendment prohibits the visitation of “crueland unusual punishment” on patients. To establish whether there wasa violation of the Eighth Amendment in this case, we ought to provethat the doctor’s omissions of actions amounted to deliberatenegligence to an otherwise serious medical need. Estellev. Gamble, 429U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292, 50 L.Ed.2d251 (1976)
Froma legal perspective, analysis of whether prison medical doctors actedwith deliberate indifference to Thomson’s medical needs must beginwith Estellev. Gamble, 429U.S. 97, 97S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). In Estelle Vs. Gamble case, thecourt held that deliberate indifference to any given serious medicalneeds of inmates constitutes unnecessary and wanton visitation ofpain as proscribed by the Eighth Amendment”. Id. At104, 97 S.Ct. At 291. However, the court cautioned that a merenegligence cannot be actionable. “An inmate’s complaint that adoctor has been negligent in treating or diagnosing a medicalcondition does not constitute a valid claim of medical negligence ormistreatment as per the Eighth Amendment. Quoting Daleyv.Vonhagen2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137489 (September 19, 2012),“Inevaluating a complaint, the Court must accept as true all of thefactual allegations and must draw all inferences in Plaintiff’sfavor”. Therefore,medical malpractice does not qualify as constitutional violationmerely because the victim involved is an inmate” 429 U.S. at 106,97 S.Ct. At 292. Again, the plaintiff must demonstrate that thealleged conducts by medical personnel are repugnant to the conscienceof humankind or inconsistent with the evolving standards of decencythat define the progress of a mature society.”Id. at102, 105-06, 97 S.Ct. at 290, 291-92
Lookinginto the facts of the case, the question is whether denying Thomson’srequest for stronger pain medication and surgery concerning hiscarpal tunnel syndrome was unconstitutional. Notably, carpal tunnelsyndrome is a condition where our client experienced tingling, pain,numbness, among other symptoms on the hands. Normally, people with apinched nerve are given a hand or a wrist brace in order to minimizethe mobility of the ligament thereby easing the inflammation(Carpal Tunnel Braces and Splints, n.d).According to prison doctors, using splints for a given period canhelp ease the inflammation. However, there is no guarantee that useof splints can help repair the pinched nerve and hence avoidinflammation in the long run. Accordingly, Thomson is of the opinionthat his rights under the Eighth Amendment are violated in the eventthat the doctors decline to provide him with a Vicodin to ease hispain and perform surgery on him to permanently cure the carpaltunnel. While under the Eighth Amendment the New York StateDepartment of Corrections and Community Supervision is obligated toprovide every offender with reasonable medical care, there existsdifferent facilities and medical options for offenders. QuotingChance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702 (2d Cir.1998) “thefailure to provide appropriate treatment might well violate theEighth Amendment” .Therefore,the kind of medical procedure or care that an offender is providedmust commensurate with their medical needs. Essentially, Thomson’smedical needs for surgery and Vicodin need to be properly assessed onits own merits.
ForThomson to prove beyond reasonable doubt that is there sufficientgrounds to prove the claim for cruel and unusual punishment, he oughtto demonstrate that his was a serious medical condition thatwarranted a surgery and Vicodin. Notably, Carpal Tunnel is a seriouscondition that if not well treated could affect a patient’s abilityto move his hands and wrists in future. Another issue that needs beaddressed in Thomson’s case is the duration of time that he hasbeen receiving medication for the Carpal Tunnel condition.
QuotingHarrison v.Barkley, 219F.3d 132, 136-137 (2d Cir. 2000)“Aserious medical condition exists where the failure to treat aprisoner’s condition could result in further significant injury orthe unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain”(FindLaw’s United States Seventh Circuit case and opinions, n.d).Thomson needs to demonstrate that the prison doctors have shown himdeliberate indifference for a prolonged period and this makes himbelieve that his medical condition could deteriorate. In essence,Thomson must be able to prove that there is evidence that prisonofficials are not taking his medical condition with the seriousnessit deserves and that their inaction could result in furthersignificant injury on his part. In Jones vs. Norris, the court heldthat Jones had to demonstrate “defendantswere deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.”Jonesv. Norris310 F.3d 610 (September 18, 2002)
ThatThomson only gets access to doctors after every two weeks may besufficient ground to prove that the medical personnel ought toperform a better assessment on his medical issue. While it is truethat prison officials have been giving him some over the countermedication, there is a possibility that this medication is notadequately managing his pain levels.
Basedon the adduced facts, it is incumbent upon Mt, Thomson to providesufficient evidence to show that his Eighth Amendment right wasviolated. Accordingly, he will have to convince the jury thatalthough the prison doctors had been giving him treatment, this wasnot adequate given the nature of his medical condition.QuotingCampos v. Srivastava, 2012U.S. Dist.LEXIS 42980(E.D. Cal., March28, 2012)“To maintain an EighthAmendmentclaimbased on prison medical treatment, an inmate must show ’deliberateindifference to seriousmedicalneeds”In essence, the prison personnel ought to have reassessed hiscondition to determine whether he needed the surgery and Vicodin tofix his carpal tunnel syndrome. The fact that the prison doctorsdeclined his suggestion without having conducted necessary tests canbe construed to mean deliberateindifference on their part. Althoughthe doctors argued that surgery procedure was not the first option,they do not show or give an indication as to when exactly they wouldresort to surgery as suggested by Mr. Thomson. Based on the evidenceadduced above, I find favor with Mr. Thomson`s claims. In my opinion,Mr. Thomson`s right to Eighth Amendment has been violated.
CarpalTunnel Braces and Splints | Information, solutions and natural relieffrom carpal tunnel.
(n.d.).Retrieved November 18, 2016, fromhttp://www.choosenatural.com/carpal-tunnel/carpal-tunnel-braces-and-splints/
FindLaw’sUnited States Seventh Circuit case and opinions. (n.d). RetrievedNovember 18, 2016,