Man Sues Marion County Jail for Denying Him Cancer Treatment While He Was Incarcerated
Laurence Parks has filed a lawsuit against Marion County Jail, claiming they didn’t provide him with the proper treatment for his renal cancer while he was an inmate last year.
Parks was sent to Marion County Jail after running away from the scene of a car accident. He didn’t obey the commands of several police officers and was eventually subdued with a taser. Police found almost a gram of cocaine on Parks. The 69-year-old also had a pending case in Hamilton County on burglary and theft charges.
According to the lawsuit, Parks needed a chemotherapy drug called Sunitinib after getting diagnosed with renal cancer at Eskenazi Hospital, but it was too expensive. He was given ibuprofen to deal with the pain instead.
“They were trying to stall,” Parks said. “They thought, ‘Oh, well, he’ll probably get out soon.’ I knew what they were talking about. I would hear them.”
A judge got involved and asked the sheriff about Park’s prescribed medicine. The jail doctor said that Parks had been given his first dose that day, but Parks said that wasn’t true. Attorney Jeff Cardella overheard their conversation that day and offered his assistance.
Parks said that he would be filing a lawsuit for the treatment he was receiving. He received his medication just four days after.
“In our society, we do hold ourselves to a certain standard, and people who are incarcerated are entitled to medical treatment,” Cardella said. “There was a part of me that really did think, this is a situation I have the ability to remedy. It’s hard for me to just walk away and say, ‘Good luck to you.'”
Parks went 36 days without treatment for his cancer, exposing himself to great harm.
“When untreated — even for a short period of time — cancer worsens and/or reduces life expectancy,” the lawsuit said. “Even a short loss in life expectancy has value.”
An expert on health care for inmates said the lawsuit brought light to an issue many prisoners face.
“People don’t like criminals,” said Marc Stern, a University of Washington professor and consultant on correctional health care. “Unless you have a friend or family (who’s in jail), unless you really get it, you’d rather put money into other things rather than make prisoners healthier.”
Parks was released from jail after pleading guilty to resisting law enforcement and cocaine possession. He was sentenced to time serve and probation. Parks said that he took four to five cycles of Sunitinib and that Medicare paid for it.
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