A 3rd District judge has ruled that a former Utah State Prison inmate can sue a prison doctor for malpractice despite a state immunity statute.
Judge Timothy R. Hansen on Monday refused the state's motion to dismiss a case brought by former inmate Albert L. Ross against prison doctor Greg M. Schackel. The ruling opens the door for Ross' request for a jury trial and may open the door for other medical malpractice suits against the state, said attorney Ross Anderson, who represents the former inmate and another client who has a similar matter another district court judge has had under advisement for several months.According to the complaint, Ross was an inmate at the prison when he hurt his leg playing basketball on Oct. 13, 1989. The complaint claims Ross' injury was X-rayed by a medical technician and that Schackel examined him three separate times, diagnosing the injury as damage to cartilage and a ligament.
Then on Oct. 27, Ross was examined at University Hospital, where doctors discovered the leg was broken. They surgically rebroke the leg and then used pins and metal rods in setting the bone, according to the complaint.
"There is no question that kind of conduct on the outside would constitute malpractice," Anderson said of the treatment Ross received at the prison. "The treatment demonstrated they knew they were immune from lawsuits."
"As a licensed physician, Schackel owed Ross a duty to exercise reasonable care and to act in conformance with the applicable standard of care in his diagnosis and treatment," the complaint says.