A state appeals court has denied immunity of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from a lawsuit when it refused to replace a device for Robin Smith, an incarcerated person who relies on the device for relief from a rare and painful condition, according to Bloomberg Law.
“Smith, a Marine Corps veteran, lives with loin pain hematuria syndrome, which causes severe abdominal pain, made worse by everyday activities such as walking,” the Oct. 12 story said. He was using a spinal cord stimulator to alleviate the pain and doctors approved a full SCS replacement in 2011, according to the article.
Smith received a 35-year prison sentence before the replacement procedure could take place.
“Smith’s altered legal situation did not alter his unfortunate medical situation,” Judge Kurt D. Englehardt’s opinion said. “He repeatedly complained of pain to prison doctors and ‘sought the SCS replacement the VA had prescribed him before his legal troubles interfered.”
All of Smith’s administrative appeals were denied by the Texas Department’s staff. They allegedly rebuffed the referrals Smith received from the VA and instead prescribed Ibuprofen. He was also given work assignment restrictions to manage his pain.
The court held that a 2018 decision made by the 5th Circuit in Delaughter v. Woodall gave the defendants a “reasonable warning that any policy of categorically denying SCS replacements without regard to an incarcerated person’s serious medical need constitutes an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference,” Englehardt said.