The story that broke on April 4, 2021 in Pennsylvania had a tragically familiar ring to it: a prisoner had died an avoidable death in a county lockup, and the settlement for the case was going to cost a lot of money, so county officials were looking to hire a private healthcare provider. In order to prevent something similar from happening again, they awarded a multi-million-dollar annual contract, which was one million dollars more than they had spent on healthcare for prisoners the previous year.

&Quot;Primecare&Quot; Not So Prime, Or Caring
“PrimeCare” not so prime, or caring

In this particular instance, the officials in Lebanon County were taken aback in October 2018 when they learned that a settlement for $4.75 million had been reached over the wrongful death of a county prisoner. They ultimately decided to award PrimeCare Medical, a company that has successfully resolved eleven medical liability cases over the course of the previous four years, a contract worth three million dollars each year in April of 2021. The firm’s obligation was not disclosed in five of those cases; nonetheless, a total of about $13.7 million was paid out in settlements for the other six cases between November 2017 and November 2019, bringing the total close to $14 million.

County Administrator Jamie Wolgemutt
County Administrator Jamie Wolgemutt

At the meeting of county commissioners where the vote was taken on the new contract, County Administrator Jamie Wolgemutt was not worried about it at all. Instead, she pointed out the liability the county would evade by passing it to the new contractor. In addition to this, adjacent counties in central Pennsylvania, including Dauphin, Lancaster, Berks, and York, had previously contracted with PrimeCare to provide medical services in their respective correctional facilities. The additional costs of outsourcing work that the county had been doing for a price that was two-thirds lower would certainly be outweighed by the advantages, right?

Before providing an answer, the officials in Lebanon County may have verified the situation with their colleagues in York County, who allowed the contract that their prison had with PrimeCare to expire on September 30, 2021. Again, the issue was financial: PrimeCare’s annual arrangement for $7.4 million had been arranged for a prison population of 2,200, but by that time, there were only 950 inmates in the facility. However, the county was also the defendant in a wrongful death action filed by the family of a prisoner named Veronique Henry.

When a Trip to Jail Is a Punishment by Execution

Download Less Medical Care For Prisoners, Higher Expenses For Taxpayers, More Profits For Corporate Owner - Primecare

Before he passed away, Henry, 42, revealed to investigators that she and her husband, Paul, 41, went to the home of Foday Cheeks, 31, in Fawn Township, Michigan, on September 13, 2016, to buy heroin. During their visit, Paul Henry fatally shot both Cheeks and Danielle Taylor, 26. Paul Henry was eventually sentenced to two life terms for the murders of Cheeks and Taylor.

The Henrys were taken into custody and lodged into the York County Prison, where the guards determined, based on Veronique’s history of incarceration there, that she should be placed on suicide watch and recommended it to their supervisor. The Henrys were subsequently released from custody. However, PrimeCare was the only entity accountable for assigning suicide watch duties to detainees. Henry was interviewed by the facility’s staff members who were on duty, none of whom were doctors, and it was found that she did not pose a risk of suicide. He was placed in an ordinary cell, and the following day, she killed herself by hanging herself with a bedsheet in the jail.

York County Prison
York County Prison

Rich Reilly, a York attorney and the administrator of Henry’s estate, along with attorneys Joshua A. Anstine and Leticia C. Chavez-Freed of the Chavez-Freed Law Office, LLC, then filed a lawsuit in the federal court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the defendants had shown deliberate indifference to Henry’s serious mental health needs.

On the same day that the estate reached a settlement agreement with PrimeCare on April 26, 2021 for an undisclosed sum, the county settled charges against its guards for $5,000. The suit had survived a motion to dismiss filed by both PrimeCare and the county on August 26, 2019, which was the same day that the suit was initially filed. See: Reilly v. York Cty., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142914 (M.D. Pa.); and Reilly v. York Cty., USDC (M.D. Pa.), Case No. 1:18-cv-01803.

According to Dr. Homer Venters, author of Life and Death in Rikers Island and former chief medical officer for Correctional Health Services in New York City, “While it’s true that there is this rubric of using private vendors, it is designed to absolve the sheriffs of responsibility and involvement.” “It does not, however, improve quality.”

Nevertheless, the privatized provision of health care to prisoners has metastasized with the expansion of Pennsylvania-based PrimeCare into jails in Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. This is the case despite questions regarding the quality of care provided and allegations of improper business tactics employed in the process of securing lucrative government contracts. PrimeCare is headquartered in Pennsylvania.

Primecare
Dr. Carl A. Hoffman
Dr. Carl A. Hoffman

Dr. Carl A. Hoffman, the company’s founder and current Medical Director, formed Pennsylvania Institutional Health Services, Inc. in the year 1986. In 1994, the company changed its name to PrimeCare Medical, Inc. That same year, two subsidiaries were established: PrimeCare Medical of New York and PrimeCare Medical of West Virginia. These subsidiaries expanded the company’s reach to provide healthcare services to inmates in correctional facilities located in the states of New York and West Virginia.

Over two dozen lawsuits have been filed just since 2009 alleging that convicts received inadequate medical or mental health care from PrimeCare, which led to the prisoners’ injuries or deaths. The organization has been successful in maintaining confidentiality regarding the majority of the matters that it has settled. Since November 2017, it has been declared liable for a total of $13,682,344, which includes an undisclosed portion of an additional $545,000 that was awarded in two other cases since March 2016.

Questionable Business Practices

Concerns regarding the commercial policies of PrimeCare have been raised repeatedly over the course of well over a decade. In 2008, allegations were brought forward in federal court regarding a company that was allegedly staffed with “cronies” of founder Hoffman, one of whom was a convicted felon, as well as unqualified employees who allegedly allowed PrimeCare to bill the government for services that were never performed.

Right And Wrong

In a lawsuit filed in which he claimed he was constructively terminated, former Vice President of Operations Richard Smith made these allegations. The suit was filed in the wake of a scandal that occurred in 1992 regarding an entry that Hoffman added to the medical records of a deceased prisoner that was backdated.

Smith claimed that after being promoted to the position of vice president in 1996, he attempted to improve the ethical standards of the company, but his efforts were unsuccessful because Hoffman hired relatives and other people with minimal qualifications who did not adhere to ethical standards. Smith blamed Hoffman for his failure. They are believed to have submitted invoices to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) for employment that were contractually necessary but remained unfilled. Smith further claimed that the corporation increased the amount they billed for medical expenses by using a “liberal interpretation” of the contracts. The lawsuit was resolved in 2009 for an amount that has been kept confidential. PrimeCare Medical, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 1:08-cv-01397.

The Sunbury Daily Item published an article in March 2013 stating that members of the Prison Board in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, were investigating PrimeCare after a former company nurse was terminated for raising concerns about substandard medical practices at the county lockup. The article was written in response to the nurse’s decision to speak out against PrimeCare. Because the corporation refused to address the issues, his supervisor also quit their position.

Northumberland County

The veteran nurse of 25 years reported to the Board that inmates were not being treated in a timely manner; when their medications ran out, the inmates would sometimes have to wait up to a week for refills, and that medical records and charts were being falsified. In addition, the nurse stated that there was a lack of adequate staffing at the facility. While this was going on, complaints from supervisors about improper behavior or poor medical treatment were also being ignored. According to the nurse, among those medicines that were not being delivered were those for ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, seizures, and psychological disorders. When he inquired about the inmates and the medications they were missing, he responded by saying,

“I was instructed to mind my own business and not to worry about them because they are “just inmates.”

The nurse continued by saying that she and her supervisor were both quite worried about the situation and had therefore requested a meeting with the regional manager. “I was fired, and a few weeks later my supervisor quit because she said she felt she couldn’t be a part of what was going on anymore.”

The former supervisor stated that she did file complaints of employee wrongdoing and that she gave such reports to her employer. This information was provided to the Daily Item.

“And nothing got done to them that I am aware of,” she said. “I brought these issues to her attention, and I was never instructed to do anything.”

Also, not much progress was made with PrimeCare, most likely because the county did not shift its attention away from the expenditures. It was still using the company at the jail in July 2021, when County Commissioner Sam Schiccatano asked Jail Warden Bruce Kovach to meet with PrimeCare officials to negotiate a lower bill, which was still running over $98,000 a month despite a drop in the prison population. PrimeCare was asked to meet with Jail Warden Bruce Kovach to negotiate a lower bill.

Complaints from staff members

Other employees have taken legal action in response to their concerns with the commercial operations of the corporation. Tonya Gray, a former nurse for PrimeCare, filed a lawsuit against the company on April 29, 2016, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that PrimeCare wrongfully terminated her employment as retaliation for her lawful use of the Family Medical Leave Act and for her request to be allowed to bring fruit juice to work while she was observing a lengthy religious fast.

In the complaint, which was filed with the assistance of attorneys Elizabeth D. Lubker in Exton and Joseph A. Ryan in Paoli, it was also alleged that staff members at PrimeCare and the Montgomery County Correctional Facility fabricated proof that Gray brought a cell phone into the jail. After the defendants’ move for summary judgment was defeated, that matter was likewise resolved in 2018 for an amount that was not disclosed in the settlement. See: Gray v. PrimeCare Med., Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105848 (E.D. Pa.); and Gray v. PrimeCare Med., Inc., USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 16-2193.

Kathleen Moore
Kathleen Moore

On March 25, 2020, a judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania denied PrimeCare’s motion to dismiss a putative class-action lawsuit brought by former company therapist Kathleen Moore. Moore accused the company of routinely violating the federal fair Labor Standards Act and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act by refusing to pay overtime to therapists treating prisoners. PrimeCare argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because it was brought as part of a class action.

Moore, with the assistance of attorneys D. Aaron Rihn and Sara J. Watkins of Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., in Pittsburgh, as well as Nicholas A. Migliaccio of the Migliaccio Law Firm PLLC in Washington, D.C., alleged that she and other therapists were required to put in extra hours at the Cambria County Prison and the Washington County Jail between 2013 and 2017. However, they were not compensated for their overtime work On March 16, 2020, a settlement was reached regarding this case for a sum that will not be disclosed. See: Moore v. PrimCare Med., Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45332 (W.D. Pa.); and Moore v. Primecare Med., Inc., USDC (W.D. Pa.), Case No. 3:19-cv-106.

Dr. Christopher Braga
Dr. Christopher Braga

Even now, allegations that PrimeCare engages in unethical business methods continue to be leveled against the company. Dr. Christopher Braga, co-owner of American Institutional Medical Group, addressed the commissioners of Belknap County, New Hampshire, in the month of May 2021. At the time, American Institutional Medical Group was responsible for providing inmate medical care through the Belknap County Corrections Department. Braga complained that, unlike PrimeCare, his company was not given adequate time to draft a proposal for the provision of healthcare at the jail, and he only “found out through the grapevine” that the department was in talks with PrimeCare. Braga also stated that his company was not given adequate time to draft a proposal for the provision of healthcare at the jail.

Corrections Superintendent Adam Cunningham
Corrections Superintendent Adam Cunningham

Additionally, Corrections Superintendent Adam Cunningham informed county commissioners that PrimeCare’s yearly bid of $699,998 was $55,442 more expensive than the budgeted amount and $20,500 more than what was expected under Braga’s firm. Despite this, he suggested that the contract be given to PrimeCare, and the commissioners accepted his suggestion.

What kind of treatment do inmates get from PrimeCare if the company engages in such dubious business methods and is subject to numerous complaints from its own staff? In the end, wrongful termination or the theft of overtime wages do not result in death in the same way as problems in the provision of healthcare do.

Questionable Medicine

Primecare Kills

Prison Legal News investigated the 26 lawsuits that have been filed against PrimeCare since 2009, all of which accuse the company of providing insufficient or negligent medical care to inmates. These do not include all of the lawsuits filed against the company; unfortunately, many cases are lost while attempting to climb the steep slope that the courts have created for prisoner lawsuits to conquer. However, the cases give a more in-depth investigation into the charges that evident warning signals of mental instability, intent to self-inflict damage, drug dependence, and symptoms of withdrawal or malignancy were overlooked. In addition, there are a multitude of reasons why deaths caused by medical neglect or serious injuries do not always result in legal action being taken.

There are situations when the inmate has recently tried suicide. When determining the likelihood of a prisoner’s passing due to withdrawal symptoms, the PrimeCare and jail staff have on occasion neglected to take into account the inmate’s dependence on drugs. Some of the inmates even alleged that they had been diagnosed with cancer, but their claims were dismissed, and they were not provided with any medical or mental health care.

In all but three of the cases, the prisoner passed away due to one of the following: drug withdrawal, neglect, or suicide . To this point, all of the lawsuits have been resolved, with the exception of six of them.

The goal of the corporation was to reduce expenses as much as possible, and this goal kept coming up. This included preventing asthma-rescue inhalers from being issued to prisoners so they could keep them in their cells, mandating that prisoners be released or transferred to a different prison if they required surgery, and either refusing medically necessary medications or delaying the delivery of those medications.

However, in a number of cases—including the one that was submitted by Henry’s estate—it is unknown how much PrimeCare paid in settlement because the court allowed a motion to keep the information confidential.

Andrew Beers
Andrew Beers

This was also the case after Andrew Beers committed suicide at the Northumberland County Prison on August 13, 2013, by hanging himself. The adult male’s mother did the right thing and filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, where she accused the county and its prison healthcare contractor of neglecting Beers’ demands for mental healthcare. Beers is now 27 years old. On October 23, 2015, a settlement with the county in the amount of $75,000 was achieved with the assistance of an attorney by the name of Wayne A. Schaible. After reaching a deal with PrimeCare for an amount that is being kept confidential, the following January saw the complaint against PrimeCare being dropped. See: Beers v. Cnty. of Northumberland, USDC (M.D. Pa.), Case No. 1:14-cv-02349.

On June 16, 2014, not exactly a year after Beers took his own life, 34-year-old Cyrus Lewis took his own life in the same jail. He had been arrested five days earlier when found trying to steal a tire from a store, leading cops on a drunken chase in a car taken without permission from his wife, which ended when he crashed the vehicle and vowed to kill himself. He had been arrested five days earlier.

Attorney Amy R. Boring
Attorney Amy R. Boring

Assisted by attorneys Amy R. Boring and Michael Zicolello of Schemery Zicolello in Williamsport, as well as Timothy A. Bowers of Tim Bowers Law Office in Sunbury, Lewis’s wife filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, attributing her husband’s suicide to both the county and PrimeCare. She blamed the county for failing to provide her husband with adequate mental health care, and she blamed PrimeCare for failing to provide him with adequate mental health

After PrimeCare’s motion for summary judgment was denied on September 30, 2018, the case was settled on January 28, 2019; however, only the county’s payment of $300,000 was made public, and PrimeCare’s contribution was kept a secret. The lawsuit had been allowed to continue after PrimeCare’s motion for summary judgment was denied on September 30, 2018. See: Lewis v. Cty. of Northumberland, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168558 (M.D. Pa.); and Lewis v. Cty. of Northumberland, USDC (M.D. Pa.), Case No. 4:14-CV-02126.

On September 15, 2021, Sean Beers, who was 34 years old at the time, killed himself in a cell at Northumberland County Prison. This was the same facility where his brother had passed away almost eight years previously. “It’s like it all happened all over again,” said Hope Dewalt, Andrew Beers’ widow. It only needs to happen once for a lesson to be learned, but for a family to have to learn it twice is something that no family should have to go through.

PrimeCare Lost Another Pennsylvania Prisoner Despite Severe Symptoms Because They Ignored Them

The family of a Pennsylvania inmate who passed away while incarcerated at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility won their case against the facility after another agreement, which was kept confidential and filed under seal in December 2020. After the inmate, Eric Viney, was booked into the facility on July 21, 2018, things went from bad to worse for him very quickly. Despite the fact that employees at PrimeCare took note of his 20-pound weight fluctuation, jaundiced conditions, and swelling extremities, the laboratory tests that they ordered were never carried out. Viney was supposed to be placed in a special housing unit where he would be observed, but this did not happen. On August 7, 2018, just a few weeks after his initial symptoms appeared, he was unable to walk, urinate, or eat.

Eric Viney
Eric Viney

When initially examined by PrimeCare staff, Viney told them he suffered from hyperthyroidism. However, during the subsequent weeks, he was only checked out by the doctors a handful of times. Even after the yellowing of his eyes caused by jaundice, he was not taken to the hospital immediately. In point of fact, it took two days to get him to the emergency room of the hospital. There, he remained in a coma for an additional one hundred days before passing away on November 17, 2018, due to the failure of several organs. He was 36.

Viney’s wife, Nakila, along with the assistance of attorney Jonathan H. Feinberg of Kairys Rudovsky Messing Feinberg & Lin LLP, filed a lawsuit in the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accusing the facility where he was being held and PrimeCare of being responsible for his untimely death. On December 7, 2020, a confidential amount was agreed upon for the settlement of that lawsuit. See: Viney v. Montgomery Cnty., USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:20-cv-00367.

A jury has decided that PrimeCare is responsible for the suicide of a Pennsylvania inmate and has awarded the company $11.9 million in damages.

An award of $11.9 million that had been made to the family of Mumun Barbaros, 46, who had committed suicide while he was incarcerated at the Monroe County Correctional Facility (MCCF) on March 22, 2009, was reinstated in November 2019 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The original award had been made in September 2016 by a federal jury in Pennsylvania. Barbaros tore up his t-shirt and crammed the pieces down his throat before continuing. 

Attorney Brian S. Chacker

In the complaint that was filed on behalf of his estate by attorney Brian S. Chacker of Gay, Chacker & Mittin, P.C., it was alleged that the personnel at PrimeCare failed to properly examine Barbaros for risk of suicide and made mistakes with his medications. After keeping Barbaros for four days without giving him his daily dose of antidepressants, the personnel at PrimeCare should have understood that restarting it may very easily lead to suicide, according to the testimony of an expert witness named Dr. Peter R. Breggin.

Before the trial began, the county reached a $25,000 settlement out of court for its portion of the lawsuit. Before returning its verdict of $11,857,344, the jury presented PrimeCare with an offer to settle its portion of the case for $800,000. However, PrimeCare declined the offer and the case proceeded to trial. The jury’s verdict included compensatory damages for civil rights claims totaling $1,057,344, another $2.8 million for negligence claims, as well as punitive damages totaling $8 million.

The request for PrimeCare to have a new trial that was made to the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was turned down. However, the district court granted a motion for judgment to be entered notwithstanding the verdict and also vacated the award of punitive damages, stating that “no reasonable jury could find PrimeCare’s conduct sufficiently recklessly indifferent so as to warrant punitive damages.” In other words, the court found that “no reasonable jury could find PrimeCare’s conduct sufficiently recklessly indifferent so as to warrant punitive damages.” The estate filed an appeal. On November 21, 2019, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a judgement that overturned the previous decision, saying:

“From the moment Barbaros entered MCCF, every person who interacted with him or was involved in his ‘care’ violated policies and procedures intended to ensure proper communication and patient safety. The record is filled with evidence of policies ignored, medical records not reviewed, medical orders not followed, medication prescribed but not given (after verification), and PrimeCare ignoring nursing staff complaints about insufficient staffing and doctors not visiting MCCF sufficiently frequently. The evidence is clearly sufficient to allow a reasonable juror to conclude that PrimeCare … recklessly disregarded Barbados’s welfare; and the jury here did just that.”

In addition, the Court upheld the lower court’s decision to deny PrimeCare’s motion for a new trial by stating that the part of the jury’s instructions that was incorrectly labeled “Negligence Per Se,” rather than “Negligence,” was a harmless mistake. This was the part of the ruling that Judge Jane Richards Roth disagreed with in her dissent from the majority opinion of the Court’s panel. See: Ponzini v. Monroe Cty., 789 Fed. Appx. 313 (3rd Cir. 2019).

PrimeCare Agreed to Pay $190,000 to Settle the Lawsuit Involved in the Death of a Pennsylvania Prisoner Who Committed Suicide

A compromise was reached in October 2019 regarding the death of 21-year-old Kyle A. Flyte, who had been booked into the Northampton County Prison on March 5, 2017, and had been placed on “Level II Suicide Watch” the following day. The case was resolved in light of the fact that a settlement was reached. The following day, he was evaluated by a psychiatrist from PrimeCare named Kishor Kumar Dedania, who ordered that Flyte be moved from the suicide watch unit to a disciplinary detention cell.

Flyte was in trouble for making false statements regarding his history of drug use on his intake paperwork. Even though he denied it, a drug test came up positive for opioids even though he said he didn’t use them. It would appear that Dedania did not take into account the impact that seclusion might have on a person who already has suicidal tendencies. Flyte committed himself by hanging himself with his shoelaces and passed away on March 13, 2017, a few days later.

The case that his estate brought against PrimeCare and the county in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania culminated in a settlement on October 11, 2019, for the amount of $252,000, with PrimeCare paying $190,000 and the county paying the remaining $62,000. The attorney for families, John Vivian, Jr., earned attorney fees totaling $101,000 and costs of $8,553. 

A Bucks County Prisoner Whose MRSA Went Undiagnosed Was Awarded $355,000 in Compensation

Bucks County Prison
Bucks County Prison

The settlement that was made in September 2019 was not related to any fatalities, but the case itself was a horrific one. In April of 2015, while Michael Farrington was being held in the Bucks County Prison, he became infected with MRSA. This was the beginning of the outbreak. According to the documents submitted to the court, the illness “ceased by summer.” In spite of this, Farrington went back to the PrimeCare staff at the prison in October 2015 to speak about the discomfort she was experiencing in her legs.

Even though he had been admitted to the hospital in December due to a fall that occurred while he was out on work release, PrimeCare discharged him, stating that he did not require any further treatment. After suffering another fall in the same month, he was eventually readmitted to the hospital, where the MRSA infection was once again identified. He then underwent a series of operations “to save his leg from amputation.”

Dawna M. Coffey
Dawna M. Coffey

Farrington filed a lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the assistance of attorneys Dawna M. Coffey and Harry J. Oxman of Oxman, Goodstadt, Kuritz, PC. The suit accuses employees of the jail and PrimeCare of being willfully indifferent to Farrington’s serious medical need. Farrington is being held at PrimeCare. After the lawsuit was able to survive a request to dismiss on May 16, 2018, the parties were able to proceed with reaching a settlement on September 23, 2019, for the amount of $355,000. Once more, it was not apparent what percentage of the total amount PrimeCare was accountable for paying. See: Farrington v. Cty. of Bucks, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82891 (E.D. Pa.); and Farrington v. Cty. of Bucks, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:17-cv-05826.

A Pennsylvania Prisoner Passes Away Due to Lack of Access to an Asthma Inhaler
Lehigh County Prison
Lehigh County Prison

A lawsuit brought by the family of a lady who passed away on November 12, 2014 at the Lehigh County Prison from complications related to untreated asthma resulted in a settlement being reached in June of 2019. The family of the deceased woman, Carol Williams, filed a lawsuit against PrimeCare, alleging that the company provided substandard medical care by requiring her to report to the infirmary for Albuterol mini-nebulizer treatments rather than providing her with a rescue inhaler that she could keep in her cell. This allegation was made with the assistance of attorneys Philip D. Lauer and Joseph E. Welsh of Lauer & Fulmer PC.

Philip D. Lauer
Philip D. Lauer

Following the denial of PrimeCare and the county’s move for summary judgment in its entirety by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on February 22, 2019, the county reached a settlement with PrimeCare for the amount of $50,000 on June 19, 2019. Once more, it was not obvious what PrimeCare covered in terms of payments. Please refer to the following for further reading: Fargione v. Sweeney, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28243 (E.D. Pa.); and Fargione v. Sweeney, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 5:16-cv-05878.

Settlements in the Amount of $1.4 Million Have Been Reached Regarding the Withdrawal Death of a West Virginia Prisoner

In 2019, settlements were also reached over the death of Dr. Charles Knouse, which had occurred at the South Central Regional Jail in West Virginia two years previously. Soon after he was booked into the jail in the summer of 2017, he disclosed to the PrimeCare staff that he was abusing multiple medications, one of which was Suboxone, and that abruptly discontinuing the use of the drug would cause him to experience cardiac arrhythmia and cause him to consider suicide.

As a 66-year-old doctor, he should have been aware of the situation.

Christopher J. Heavens
Christopher J. Heavens

Dr. Knouse took the unusual step of obtaining an order from a federal magistrate requiring that he be placed on all drugs and kept in the medical section of the detention facility. This was done as an extra precaution. But neither of those things occurred. A few days later, on August 4, 2017, Knouse passed away as a result of a cardiac attack.

The family of Knouse filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia with the assistance of attorneys James D. McQueen, Jr. and Amanda J. Davis of McQueen Davis, PLLC in Huntington, as well as Christopher J. Heavens of Heavens Law Firm, PLLC in Boothwine, Pennsylvania. Christopher J. Heavens is located in Boothwine, Pennsylvania.

They were able to gather evidence that demonstrated three PrimeCare nurses had lied on their medical logs in order to show that wellness checks had been performed while in reality these checks had not been performed. A guard was also let go for faking 15-minute suicide watch reports and told Knouse to “shut up” after the detainee asked for medical treatment about five hours before he passed away. This occurred approximately five hours before Knouse passed away.

Following this, the jail authority made a payment of $400,000 to resolve its portion of the lawsuit. Of this amount, $160,000 was paid in fees to the plaintiff’s attorney, and another $47,623.24 was paid in costs. On February 5, 2019, the court dismissed cross-claims that the guards had brought against PrimeCare. On November 25, 2019, the firm settled its portion of the litigation for one million dollars, which was the maximum amount that its liability insurer was able to afford. Please refer to the following cases for further information: Knouse v. PrimeCare Med., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18266 (S.D. W.Va.); and Knouse v. PrimeCare Med., USDC (S.D. W.Va.), Case No. 2:18-cv-01014.

The Family of a Pennsylvania Prisoner Who Committed Suicide Received More Than $335,000 in Compensation

Late in 2018 and early in 2019, settlements were reached in a case involving the suicide of Bryan A. Applegate, 29, at the Northampton County Prison on July 8, 2015. He had been detained there after being identified from a photo lineup on a charge of “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by force” and related offenses against a 17-year-old girl. Bryan A. Applegate took his own life at the prison. He had been there since he was arrested on the charge.

Adam Meshkov Of Meshkov &Amp; Breslin And John Vivian
Adam Meshkov of Meshkov & Breslin and John Vivian

His family, with the assistance of attorneys Adam Meshkov of Meshkov & Breslin and John Vivian of Easton, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claiming that PrimeCare and the staff at the jail should have been on notice of his suicide risk due to his previous attempts at suicide while he was a pretrial detainee at the jail. In his case, Applegate’s family stated that the jail’s rules and practices involving the treatment of mentally ill inmates enabled him to hang himself, in addition to blaming a poorly made suicide smock for the death of their son.

On December 10, 2018, the county reached a settlement agreement for $100,000, and on January 16, 2019, PrimeCare reached a settlement agreement for $235,000. On February 26, 2019, the lawsuit against the designer of suicide smocks, Bob Barker Co., Inc., was settled for an undisclosed amount. See: Applegate v. County of Northampton, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 5:17-cv-03885.

An Agreement in the Amount of $275,000 Has Been Reached Regarding the “Easily Preventable Death” of a New York Prisoner

On March 20, 2018, the commissioners for Niagara County, New York, voted to pay $125,000 to settle a lawsuit brought in state Supreme Court by the estate of a man who died at the county jail, where PrimeCare provided healthcare for inmates. The lawsuit was brought by the estate of a man who received healthcare at the county jail from PrimeCare. After afterwards, it was reported that the company agreed to pay an additional 150,000 dollars as part of the settlement with the estate of the deceased man, DeJuan Hunt II.

Medical Review Board Of The New York Commission On Corrections

The Medical Review Board of the New York Commission on Corrections issued a report highly critical of the medical care he received from PrimeCare, the jail’s healthcare contractor, after the 25-year-old inmate was found unresponsive in his cell at the Niagara County Jail on August 29, 2016. The report found that “this was a wholly preventable death if not for the shockingly inadequate medical and mental health care provided Hunt by contract medical providers Correction Medical Care Inc.”

“During his 26 days of incarceration, Hunt was never examined or treated by any physician,” the report continued, adding that the prisoner’s “inadequately treated mental illness resulted in progressive hostility toward correction staff,” which led to a scuffle with guards nine days before he died. “During his 26 days of incarceration, Hunt was never examined or treated by any physician,” the report continued, adding that the prisoner’s “inadequately treated mental illness result

During that time, a security guard performed a technique known as a “shin sheer” on Hunt by pressing his baton against Hunt’s shins. Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially fatal illness that can lead to renal failure and was brought on by the leakage of proteins from Hunt’s injured muscle into his bloodstream. The rigor mortis that had set in by the time his dead body was found nine days later had caused his jaw to become rigid.

Both Correctional Medical Care and PrimeCare were criticized in the report written by the Medical Review Board. Correctional Medical Care was in charge of Hunt’s medical care at the jail for the first week of his detention, while PrimeCare was in charge of his care after that. Both his mental illness and the development of rhabdomyolysis were missed by the latter, even as Hunt’s foot became so swollen that he could not put on shoes and screamed in pain when guards escorted him to the jail’s infirmary. The former should have recognized and treated Hunt’s severe mental illnesses, which included delusions, hallucinations, and thoughts of self-harm and suicide. The latter missed both his mental illness and the development of r

According to the findings of the autopsy, the death was the result of a homicide. The Medical Review Board was of the same opinion and made the recommendation that a criminal inquiry into civil rights violations be opened by the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. However, in July of 2017, the District Attorney for Niagara County, Caroline Wojtaszek, announced that no charges would be brought against the defendant.

Jenine Townsend, Hunt’s mother, was the one who initiated the legal action known as Estate of Hunt v. County of Niagara. This case was eventually resolved in the state Supreme Court for Niagara County on behalf of Hunt’s estate with the assistance of Buffalo attorney Scott M. Schwatz.

At the Bucks County Prison, there has been a string of deaths associated with opiate withdrawal.

Marlene Yarnell, 49, passed away on March 22, 2014 at the Bucks County Correctional Facility (BCCF) as a result of cardiac arrest brought on by heroin detoxification. In November 2017, PrimeCare paid a total of $250,000 to the Yarnell family in order to settle a lawsuit that had been filed by the Yarnell family.

Bucks County Correctional Facility
Bucks County Correctional Facility

That was just one year after she had another heart attack brought on by the detoxification process when she was incarcerated, and it had been three days after she had been arrested for a probation violation. Her family took legal action in March 2016, filing a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the assistance of attorney Kenneth B. Grear of de Luce Levine LLC.

On November 22, 2017, PrimeCare reached a settlement with the plaintiff for a total of $250,000, of which $87,500 was paid to the attorney representing the plaintiff, another $22,090.76 was paid to cover the costs of the litigation, $5,855 was paid for funeral expenses, and $335.39 was paid to satisfy a Medicare lien. The remaining amount was distributed as follows: $120,796.96 went toward the wrongful death claim, and $13,421.89 went toward the survival claim brought by her relatives. See: Yarnall v. County of Bucks, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 2:16-cv-01291.

Jonathan H. Feinberg
Jonathan H. Feinberg

A second settlement was made in the case of the death of Vallia “Valene” Karaharisis, who was 29 years old and had passed away in BCCF on September 29, 2013, three days after she had been imprisoned for a violation of her probation. This settlement was achieved a few months before the first one. Her mother initiated legal action on September 10, 2015, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with the assistance of attorneys Jonathan H. Feinberg and Susan M. Lin of the Philadelphia law firm Kairys Rudovsky Messing Feinberg & LLP.

Following a significant amount of dilatory behavior on the part of the county, some of the “Doe” guards named in the lawsuit were identified. However, the court had to order the county to permit the complaint to be changed on July 5, 2016, in order to include their names. See: Lopez v. Bucks Cty., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87383 (E.D. Pa.).

On February 3, 2017, the plaintiff had the action dismissed because the county had reached a settlement over its portion of the lawsuit for an amount that was not disclosed. It was not obvious what PrimeCare’s participation was in the settlement that was reached. See: Lopez v. Bucks Cty., USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:15-cv-05059.

There are now two further lawsuits being processed over deaths that occurred at BCCF.

The first incident was the passing away of Frederick Adami, age 52, on January 28, 2018, due to problems brought on by opiate withdrawal. His death occurred a day after he was placed into BCCF for failing to pay child support. On May 20, 2019, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against PrimeCare and the county in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the assistance of attorneys Shanin Specter, David K. Inscho, and Michael Caliveri of Kline & Specter. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

On April 8, 2022, the Court issued a summary judgment in favor of three security guards. This was due to the fact that Adami was under the control of PrimeCare. See: Adami v. Cty. of Bucks, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65358 (E.D. Pa.). The case against PrimeCare and the other county defendants is still active and being worked on. See: Adami v. Cnty. of Bucks, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 19-cv-2187.

The other legal action was brought about by the passing of Brittany Ann Harbaugh, who was 28 years old. On September 26, 2018, when she was being booked into BCCF for a probation violation, she told a PrimeCare nurse that she had consumed three bundles of heroin on the day of her arrest. This occurred on September 26. Medications for detoxification were given to her, and she was placed under “medical watch” for opiate withdrawal. However, she was not examined by a doctor despite the fact that a nurse had observed withdrawal symptoms.

On the fourth day of her incarceration, Harbaugh passed away from difficulties related to withdrawal. This was after her withdrawal pills were skipped multiple times without any reason being given. Her family has filed a lawsuit against PrimeCare and Bucks County in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on March 31, 2020. The complaint, which is still pending, was assisted by attorneys Inscho and Caliveri of Kline & Specter. See: Harbaugh v. Cnty. of Bucks, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:20-cv-01685.

Dr. Von Kiel of PrimeCare, as well as Another Passing at Lehigh University

County Jail

Not exactly a half year prior to the filing of the suit concern over Karaharisis’ passing in Bucks County led to the following:

resolved, another case in which PrimeCare was a named defendant was settled in August 2016 over a former prisoner’s death following her confinement at Lehigh County Prison. the case centered on the death of the former prisoner (LCP).

Since 1989, Dr. Dennis Erik Fluck Von Kiel had served as the medical director of that particular prison. In 2004, when PrimeCare assumed responsibility for the provision of healthcare services within prisons, Fluck Von Kiel was hired by PrimeCare. Later, in January of 2015, he was fired from his job, which occurred not long after officials from the IRS arrested him on accusations of tax evasion and fraud.

Von Kiel admitted in his guilty plea that he had lied about being a member of a Utah church in order to get out of paying federal taxes and avoiding paying back federally guaranteed student loans. ‘Living Soul, Erik Von Kiel,’ as he was known in the fake church, also admitted to “draft[ing] a letter, as part of a scheme to collect Social Security benefits,” in which he stated that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, the severity of which had rapidly increased over the course of the previous year, rendering him unable to care for patients. This confession was made as part of the scheme to collect Social Security benefits.

This assertion is proven to be false by the fact that he was Barvina Berrios’s medical provider of record when she was booked into LCP on February 4, 2013, after being arrested for an altercation that occurred while she was driving. During the intake process, Berrios disclosed to the PrimeCare team that in addition to suffering from asthma, bipolar disorder, and diabetes, she was also participating in a methadone maintenance program. She went to see Dr. Von Kiel, who diagnosed her with several ailments and provided the appropriate drugs.

Despite this, Berrios’ health began to deteriorate rather quickly. She complained of terrible chest aches and started hacking up blood immediately. According to a complaint that was later submitted by her estate, four days into her incarceration, she was forced to use a wheelchair in order to attend her preliminary hearing, and she could “barely speak above a whisper,” according to the complaint. However, she was not provided with any medical attention for her deteriorating condition.

She was placed in solitary confinement “so that she would not disturb the other inmates,” despite the fact that she had begun calling for assistance from within her cell and that other inmates had voiced their worries about the situation. It took her family a week after she was booked into the facility before they were able to post bond and get her released. They made haste to get her to the hospital, where doctors determined that she was suffering from pneumonia, fever, and septic shock. She passed away the night after that.

Her family, with the assistance of attorneys Joseph E. Welsh and Philip D. Lauer of Lauer & Fulmer PC, filed a lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that PrimeCare personnel ignored both her pneumonia and her sepsis, despite the fact that the former had been present for approximately 25 hours and the latter for approximately five days. Her pneumonia had been present for approximately five days. On August 2, 2016, a settlement was reached in the case for an amount that is being kept confidential. See: Berrios v. Sweeney, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 5:15-cv-00510.

A lawsuit filed over a West Virginia inmate’s death related to drugs has resulted in a settlement of $190,000.

A compromise was struck with the estate of Donald Wayne Cline, who was 47 years old when he passed away on July 22, 2009, at the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The settlement took place in March of 2016. After his pickup truck had rear-ended another car, he was brought into custody by the arriving police officers who administered a field sobriety test, during which he came dangerously close to falling into the roadway. Despite this, his blood alcohol level was 0.05, which is below the 0.08 limit that is permissible for operating a vehicle. In spite of this, he was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or controlled substances and was put into the jail. In addition, he was allowed in without first receiving a clean bill of health from a doctor, and he was not subjected to any form of additional monitoring.

After a few more hours, he passed away. Methadone, carisoprodol, diazepam, and butalbital contributed to the individual’s state of drunkenness that ultimately led to their passing. Cline’s widow, assisted by attorney Henry P. Waddell, filed a complaint in the state’s 23rd Judicial Circuit Court, accusing jail officials and PrimeCare of negligence. The action was filed in Cline’s name. Waddell claimed the lawsuit had been settled for $190,000 during the hearing that took place on March 16, 2016, with $90,000 of that amount going toward attorney fees and other associated costs. It was not clear how much of a contribution PrimeCare made to the total amount of the settlement.

PrimeCare Settled Lawsuit Over Death of Another Pennsylvania

Eileen Dinino
Eileen DiNino

Eileen DiNino, 55, passed away shortly after she was arrested and ordered to spend two days in a Pennsylvania jail in June 2014 for failing to pay a $2,000 fine, which was owed for school absences recorded for some of her seven children. In January 2016, a settlement was reached with the estate of Eileen DiNino, who had died shortly after her arrest. Eileen DiNino had been arrested and ordered to spend two days in jail in June 2014 for failing to pay the fine. She reported having “some difficulty and trouble breathing” when she was being booked into the Berks County Prison. She was evaluated by the medical staff at PrimeCare, who noted that she had elevated blood pressure. But instead of treating her wound, they put her back in the holding cell and told the guards to check on her periodically.

After some while, she was discovered unresponsive. The cause of death was determined to be heart failure following an autopsy, with high blood pressure being a contributing factor. There were no criminal charges brought forward. Her estate has filed a lawsuit against PrimeCare and Berks County in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the assistance of attorneys David Rudovsky of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP and Michael J. Olley of Coffey Kaye Myers & Olley. Both attorneys work for the firms Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP and Coffey Kaye Myers & Olley. The lawsuit against the county was quickly thrown out of court. After that, PrimeCare reached a settlement under terms that are now final.

Treating Prisoner’s Acute-Onset Diabetes With Pepto Bismol

A settlement was struck in January 2016 for an amount that has not been made public in a case that was brought by the family of a Pennsylvania prisoner who passed away as a result of untreated diabetes.

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett

“It was a totally unnecessary death,” said Michael Barrett, the attorney for the family of the dead man, Rae-Mone Carter, Jr. “He wasn’t being seen by nurses, he wasn’t being seen by doctors. He wasn’t being treated for diabetes, he was being treated with Pepto-Bismol.”

In March of 2013, Carter, a father of four who was 26 years old at the time, was incarcerated in the Chester County Prison for possession of illegal drugs. He went to the hospital five days before he passed away in order to receive medical care because he had been throwing up for two days and had a sore throat. In spite of receiving Pepto-Bismol and antibiotics from the PrimeCare staff for the following three days, the patient’s condition continued to deteriorate fast. On the fourth day, he was admitted into the medical unit, but he did not see a doctor until the next morning, when a nurse observed that his blood sugar level was unusually high. She tried to get an intravenous line and some insulin, but it was already too late. The following morning, on March 16, 2013, he passed away.

Following that, Barret and his co-counsel, Joseph G. Deangelo of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C., filed a lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Carter’s estate. On September 16, 2015, a decision was made to approve a move to suppress a discovery demand made by the plaintiff for PrimeCare’s corporate financial documents. It was upheld after a motion to reconsider was made after two weeks had passed. After that, on January 15, 2016, the parties finally agreed on a settlement and had it officially signed. Please refer to the following cases for further information: Shelton v. Cty. of Chester, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123343; and 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132227 (E.D. Pa.); and Shelton v. Cty. of Chester, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 13-4667.

A jury in Pennsylvania found PrimeCare to be merely negligent and exonerated the company from liability for the death of the prisoner.

In March 2015, a jury in Pennsylvania, which was hearing claims brought over the death of Travis Magditch, 27, at the Lehigh County Prison on January 3, 2012, gave PrimeCare a break at trial. The jury was hearing claims related to the death of Travis Magditch. The personnel at PrimeCare observed that the asthmatic patient’s lung function was “severely low” after the patient was taken into custody for possession of drug paraphernalia. However, PrimeCare has told employees to stop handing out rescue inhalers at the jail due to an increase in the cost of these medications.

An autopsy revealed that Magditch had died from asthma, which was found to be the cause of death when his lifeless body was found the following day in his cell. Magditch’s family, with the assistance of attorneys Thomas R. Kline and David K. Inscho of Kline & Specter, filed a lawsuit in the state Court of Common Pleas, alleging that PrimeCare’s policy of not providing prisoners with rescue inhalers was the cause of Magditch’s death. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Magditch’s estate.

During the jury trial, the attorney for PrimeCare produced witnesses who were of the opinion that Magditch did not pass away as a result of asthma, but rather as a result of choking on his own vomit as a result of heroin withdrawal. The conclusion reached by the coroner, stating that asthma was the cause of death, was criticized by the same attorney as being “oversimplified.” This was seemingly accepted by the jury, as they came to the conclusion that PrimeCare acted negligently in the delivery of medical care to Magditch but did not hold the company accountable for his passing. See: Magditch v. Lehigh Cnty., Pa. Comm. Pleas (Lehigh Cnty.), Case No. 2012-C-5428.

More Suicide Cases

In a lawsuit that was initiated by Stephen Schnee’s widow after he committed suicide at the Berks County Prison on September 13, 2013, another confidential settlement was made on February 5, 2016, and it was sealed. Diane, his widow, had filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the assistance of attorney Paul Messing of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg. In the complaint, Diane accused both the county and PrimeCare of failing to provide adequate medical care for her husband’s requirements. See: Schnee v. Berks Cty., USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 5:14-cv-03195.

Charles Freitag, Sr., 57, took his own life in the Bucks County jail on August 25, 2018, a day after he was sentenced for driving his pickup truck into the home of his ex-wife. The incident occurred on August 24. Several months ago, he disclosed to a psychologist working for PrimeCare that after the sentence hearing, he would want further consultation with a mental health expert. However, the follow up was not planned to take place until a date that was three days after the hearing, and by that time, he had already committed suicide.

Warning signs of Freitag’s increasing suicidal distress in the weeks preceding the sentencing were ignored by PrimeCare staff, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed for Freitag’s family in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by attorney Jonathan H. Feinberg of Kairys Rudovsky Messing Feinberg & Lin LLP. PrimeCare staff also failed to take into consideration Freitag’s extensive mental health history: In the 16 months before to his passing, Freitag had made two unsuccessful attempts at taking his own life and had been admitted to a mental health facility. Since his passing, there have been a total of four other suicides at the correctional facility. The case has not yet been resolved. See: Freitag v. Bucks Cnty., USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:19-cv-05750.

On September 4, 2018, three weeks after she was put off suicide watch, 32-year-old Sitarah Daniels of Syracuse, New York, committed herself by hanging herself with a blanket in the cell she was occupying at the Monroe County Jail. Her mother, with the assistance of attorney Michael A. Bottar of Bottar Leone, PLLC, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against PrimeCare and other defendants in the state Supreme Court for Monroe County, alleging that staff ignored Daniels’ history of severe mental health disorders, psychiatric hospitalization, and suicide attempts—including an attempt using a bedsheet at the same jail in 2015. The lawsuit claims that the staff ignored Daniels’ history of severe mental health disorders, psychiatric

On March 10, 2021, after the matter had been transferred to the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, it was brought before a mediator. It has not yet been decided. See: James v. Monroe Cty., USDC (W.D. N.Y.), Case No. 6:20-cv-07094.

Pennsylvania Inmate Left Quadriplegic After Failed Escape Attempt

Suicide Attempt

A prisoner who had suffered a serious injury in the Chester County Prison on March 29, 2010, filed a lawsuit, which was eventually resolved in 2014 for an amount that was not disclosed, and the claim was settled. Ignoring his history of mental illness and his psychotic state, the personnel at PrimeCare allegedly gave guards permission to detain the man, Robert Stewart, in restraints in a medical observation cell, where he made two unsuccessful attempts to commit suicide by hurling himself over the top bunk. Stewart further claimed that employees from PrimeCare were there when guards placed him into a prone position following the second attempt, which he said contributed to the injuries that left him a quadriplegic.

Stewart fought back against the county’s petition to dismiss the case with the assistance of attorneys Harry J. Oxman and Joseph S. Oxman of Oxman Goodstadt Kuritz. On March 27, 2014, the motion to dismiss the case was refused by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On September 9, 2014, the Court refused PrimeCare’s additional petition to dismiss the case, which paved the path for an undisclosed settlement to be reached on November 24, 2014. Please refer to the following cases for further information: Stewart v. Emmons, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41467; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126615 (E.D. Pa.); and Stewart v. Emmons, USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:12-cv-01509.

More Negligence

In a lawsuit that is currently underway in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, PrimeCare is being accused of committing medical malpractice that led to the death of 21-year-old Ty-Rique Riley on July 1, 2019, while he was incarcerated in the Dauphin County Prison. The lawsuit, which was brought with the assistance of attorneys Kevin V. Mincey and Riley H. Ross III of Mincey Fitzpatrick Ross, LLC, seeks to hold the firm and county employees liable for the mentally ill young man’s wrongful death at the county lockup, where it is alleged that guards beat him. The suit was brought with the assistance of attorneys Kevin V. Mincey and Riley H. Ross III.

Angela Swanson, the defendant’s guard, filed a move to dismiss the complaint; however, it was denied, and the case was returned to a magistrate court for additional proceedings on March 7, 2022. See: Riley v. Clark, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40035 (M.D. Pa.).

Shawn Ravert, a former inmate at the Monroe County Correctional Facility, has filed a separate lawsuit in the same federal court, alleging that PrimeCare should have diagnosed a cancerous skin lesion on his leg after his incarceration in 2016, but that its failure to do so—despite his nine visits to the medical unit to complain about it—delayed treatment for 18 months. Ravert claims that the delay in treatment was caused by PrimeCare’s failure to diagnose the lesion, despite his nine

Ravert’s action claims that he sought treatment for a skin tag on his leg in December 2016, two months after he was incarcerated. The suit was filed with the assistance of attorneys David J. Caputo of Youman & Caputo and Zachary Arbitman of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP. At one point, the “highly suspicious appearing” lesion became separated from his leg. According to the suit that Ravert is wearing, this lesion should have been sent to a laboratory for a biopsy. Instead, according to the allegations, PrimeCare officials instructed the nurse who was treating him to dispose of it.

After being released from prison in June 2018, he received the news that he had malignant melanoma in the same region. In January of 2019, he underwent surgery; nevertheless, in February, he was given a diagnosis of Stage IIIC melanoma, which has a survival probability of only 69 percent after 5 years. The lawsuit was filed within the same month, February 2019, by him. The move to dismiss made by PrimeCare and another one made by the county were both denied on March 17, 2021, which means that the case will continue as scheduled. Please refer to the following cases for further information: Ravert v. Monroe County, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49654; and 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49655 (M.D. Pa.); and Ravert v. Monroe County, USDC (M.D. Pa.), Case No. 4:20-cv-00889.

Lessons Learned

A few takeaways from an analysis of the 26 prisoner lawsuits regarding PrimeCare that are described in this article are as follows: To begin, entering into a contract with PrimeCare does not inevitably result in an improvement in the quality of medical treatment provided to convicts. Second, entering into a contract with PrimeCare does not exclude the filing of litigation against the county or any other legal authority; furthermore, some of these actions will result in significant financial settlements or awards. However, because standard language in prison and medical contracts typically states that the medical care provider will indemnify the government entity for any litigation expenses that result from inadequate medical care, this typically does save the government from paying litigation expenses that are related to inadequate medical care. Businesses such as PrimeCare base their operations on the principle of extracting the most amount of money feasible from the government while simultaneously rendering the barest minimum of medical services. The ensuing litigation is nothing more than an unavoidable expense associated with running a business, which, based on the longevity and expansion of the company, appears to be a highly successful and lucrative business model.

These observations are based on the fact that PrimeCare has a profit motive in denying or delaying health care, particularly costly medical interventions such as surgery and cancer treatment. Specifically, these observations stem from the fact that PrimeCare has a profit motive in denying or delaying health care. On top of that, there is an apparent failure to acknowledge the significance of some medical and mental health problems, such as suicidal ideation, detoxification, and asthma. These are only some of the concerns.

There is one thing that cannot be argued: there should be a serious national discussion on the question of whether or not it is moral or ethical to corporatize and privatize the provision of healthcare to inmates.

Additional sources: Altoona Mirror, AP News, Courthouse News, Ellwood City Ledger, Erie Times-News, Hagerstown Herald Mail Media, Johnstown Tribune Democrat, Laconia Daily Sun, Lebanon Daily News, Lehigh Valley Live, Lehigh Valley Morning Call, Pennsylvania Record, Philadelphia Inquirer, Private Corrections Working Group, Sunbury Daily Item, West Virginia Record, WITF, York Daily Record, York Dispatch