Inmate says he was denied surgery for 'life-threatening' hernia, files lawsuit

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 19, 2012, 3:39pm

GALVESTON - A Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate is pursuing legal action after his request to undergo a medical procedure he claims was necessary was denied, recent court documents say. 

A lawsuit filed Dec. 17 in Galveston County District Court asserts the University of Texas Medical Branch and the TDCJ Medical Services Department "has established and shown deliberate indifference at this point and unnecessary wanton infliction of pain" by not performing the needed surgery to repair an inguinal hernia reportedly suffered by Timothy R. Armstrong.

Armstrong, who is currently incarcerated in the A. Hughes Unit in Gatesville, explains he was first inflicted with the injury in question when he noticed there was pain in the right portion of his groin area sometime last year.

A doctor's visit on Aug. 17, 2011, revealed the problem to be a reducible right inguinal right hernia, and the treating physician referred Armstrong to UTMB general surgery.

The suit shows that the complainant submitted paperwork to be granted an operation only to be turned down, stating surgery is needed "so he can regain a normal form of health while incarcerated".

Armstrong is employed as the unit butcher for eight hours a day, six days a week where it entails heavy lifting and frequent movement of meat products for food service preparation, according to the original petition, and an absence results in disciplinary action.

He insists the size of the inguinal hernia had "grown double if not triple" to about 20 centimeters "with severe pain and discomfort" and not even a plea from his mother "can move UTMB to do the right thing".

The suit adds the hernia is potentially life-threatening if left untreated.

Armstrong is representing himself, and Galveston County 10th District Court Judge David Garner is presiding over the case.

Case No. 12-CV-3120

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