Impotent ex-inmate loses prison negligence case
An ex-inmate who developed a penile disorder in prison, which resulted in him becoming impotent, left the Supreme Court Wednesday a disappointed man after a judge found that the State was not at fault for his condition.
The court, however, awarded him $200,000 for his pain and suffering.
The 54-year-old claimant, Rupert Campbell, had sued the State for negligence, claiming that prison workers had given him drugs which had triggered priapism - long-lasting erection - and for four days had failed to take him to a doctor when he reported the painful condition.
The Manchester farmer was seeking damages for erectile dysfunction and also for his pain and suffering.
But Justice Dale Staple, in his judgment Wednesday, said there was no evidence to support the claim that the State had given the claimant drugs which had caused the priapism and that there was no proof that a delay in providing medical care had caused his impotency.
According to the judge, it was the claimant’s delay in reporting his condition that had likely resulted in him becoming impotent.
Justice Staple pointed to the fact that the claimant had stated that he had a mild erection and discomfort which lasted for an entire day but reported it the following morning when his condition worsened.
Irreversible damage is believed to occur after 12-24 hours of priapism.
The judge, however, found that the prison authorities had delayed in getting Campbell immediate attention when they were alerted, and as result, awarded him $200,000 for the four days of pain and suffering that he experienced.
The judge, nonetheless, noted that some of the pain Campbell suffered could have resulted from a urinary tract infection that he had experienced earlier.
Campbell was crushed by the judgment.
“It unfair and di prison authorities dem wicked. Every day mi go fi mi medication three times per day, and I report to dem and dem give me Lasix, say a bladder infection, and when it can’t help mi, mi go take a cold shower fi see if a overheat mi body a overheat,” said Campbell, who reported that his condition prevents him from doing strenuous work.
‘But dem could a come better. Mi did expect say mi woulda get a money weh mi can live off ... . Dem coulda even give me $15 million.”
Campbell had claimed that while at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in February 2006, he had a seizure and was given medication.
After taking the medication, Campbell claimed he developed a persistent and painful erection after first noticing a milder one that lasted for a day on February 21.
Campbell was taken to Spanish Town Hospital four days later and transferred to Kingston Public Hospital for emergency surgery.
The State, through its lawyers, challenged the claim, arguing that the Department of Correctional Services acted promptly from the moment it was made aware of Campbell’s condition and, therefore, was not negligent.
Attorney-at-law Ian Davis represented Campbell, while lawyers Matthew Gabbadon and Karessian Gray represented the attorney general.