Monday, September 15, 2014

Prison nurse denied qualified immunity where she ignored plaintiff's severe pain for 5 hours

Al-Turki v. Robinson, 2014 WL 3906851 (8/12/14) (Col.) (Published) - The Tenth affirms a denial of qualified immunity to a prison nurse. Mr. Al-Turki's severe pain for five hours that caused him to collapse, vomit and believe himself to be dying satisfied the objective prong of the deliberate indifference test. It didn't matter that it turned out the cause was kidney stones, "a relatively benign" condition that could only be reduced, not eliminated, by medical treatment. And it was clearly established the nurse's conduct violated the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. She was aware that severe abdominal pain, particularly in someone with diabetes, like Mr. Al-Turki, may be a sign of a number of serious, life-threatening conditions. She was also aware she was the only medical person on duty. Without her help Mr. Al-Turki would have no medical assistance. Later-learned facts that made this case less severe than other Tenth Circuit cases didn't make her choice to ignore Mr. Al-Turki's repeated requests for help any less culpable.