Wilson County Jail sued by former inmate over denied care

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 10:14pm

A former inmate of the Wilson County Jail is alleging his civil rights were violated when he was denied medical attention during at stay in the facility in 2008.

According to a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court, Gregory Sells says he was denied proper medical care by the Wilson County Sheriff's Department when he came down with a serious staph infection at the jail.

As the events are laid out in the filing, Sells was incarcerated in September 2008 for child support violations and was “otherwise healthy and suffering from no known illnesses.” While housed in the facility, the suit claims, Sells allegedly contracted at staph infection on his arm, “which worsened over time.”

Sells is petitioning the court for punitive damages. In addition to the county Sheriff's Department, the suit targets the County Government of Wilson County.

“[The] plaintiff repeatedly advised Defendant[s] of this event and repeatedly requested medical attention from the staff,” the suit says, but the jail officials “willfully deliberately and recklessly failed to provide said medical attention.”

The filing notes that after his conditioned worsened, Sells was transferred to University Medical Center for surgery on Nov. 8; the procedure cut the infection and necrotic tissue from the inmate's arm. Following the surgery, Sells was transferred back to the prison “with specific aftercare instructions as to the care and maintenance of his wounds and dressings,” but the jail staff “disregarded these instructions, causing further complications to the Plaintiff's recovery,” the lawsuit claims.

The suit says that Sells continues to suffer “pain, discomfort, limitations and complications from his injuries.” His attorney, Adam Wilding Parrish did not return calls for comment by Thursday night.

When reached for comment, Wilson County attorney Michael Jennings said the county had not yet been served and could not comment.

The Wilson County Jail is no stranger to controversy.

Following the 2003 death on an inmate, Walter Kuntz, the facility was subject to a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry. The investigation found “Wilson County Jail fails to provide inmates with medical care” and that “contrary to generally accepted professional correctional standards, Wilson does not have an effective system for inmates to gain timely, basic access to medical care.”