Jury Awards $549,000 to Prisoner for Denial of Medical Care
In November 2018 a federal jury in Tacoma, Washington awarded $549,000 to MHB client Etienne Choquette, a prisoner who suffers from multiple sclerosis. The jury found that three prison medical officials from the Washington Department of Corrections violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment when they stopped Mr. Choquette’s treatment for pain caused by multiple sclerosis for almost five months.
The jury awarded $149,000 in compensatory damages for the violation of Mr. Choquette’s civil rights, and $400,000 in punitive damages against the three prison officials, including $200,000 in punitive damages against Steven Hammond, the former medical director of the Washington Department of Corrections.
“The jury sent a strong message to the Department of Corrections and its officials that they must treat the prisoners under their care with basic human dignity,” said Jesse Wing, one of the MHB attorneys who represented Mr. Choquette. “The defendants repeatedly denied our client a simple, generic medication for almost five months when they knew their decisions would cause him terrible nerve pain. These state officials thought no one would care. But the jury did, and it found their behavior cruel, in violation of the Bill of Rights.”
Mr. Choquette was represented by MHB attorneys Jesse Wing and Tiffany Cartwright. Additional coverage of the case can be read in the Seattle Times: