Arkansas jail accused of dumping inmates on hospital

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 7, 2008, 10:45am

TEXARKANA, Ark. � Shortly before being brought to the Miller County Correctional Facility, John Wayne Lemoine had been hit in the head with a cinder block during a fight.

While in the jail Aug. 1, 2005, Lemoine and his family say they requested medical attention but claim the request was denied.

Two weeks later, Lemoine was found in his cell unresponsive and confused. After treatment at a Texarkana hospital, Lemoine was flown to Little Rock in critical condition.

In Little Rock, Lemoine received surgery in which a hematoma and part of his skull was removed. He stayed in Little Rock for over a month, incurring medical expenses in excess of $208,000.

Just prior to his transfer to the hospital, Lemoine was released for time-served. According to Lemoine, the Miller County Sheriff's Department abandoned and dumped him on the Texarkana hospital in order to avoid paying his medical expenses.

Lemoine filed suit against Miller County, Ark., Miller County Judge Roy McNatt, former Miller County Sheriff H.L. Phillips, former warden Mike Griffen, and other county employees and jailers on Aug. 5, in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas.

According to the complaint, "inmate dumping is an unconstitutional yet common practice of the Miller County Sheriff's Department."

The sheriff's department transports detainees in need of medical attention to the hospital and releases the individual from custody in an attempt to avoid paying for the treatment, the suit states.

By not providing appropriate medical care when he was in their custody, Lemoine asserts that the defendants violated his civil rights and his due process rights.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.

Texarkana attorney Anthony S. Biddle and Little Rock attorney Don E. Trimble are representing the plaintiff in his allegations.

Lemoine is requesting a trial by jury.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes will preside over the litigation.

Case No: 4:2008cv04070

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