SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge has cleared the way for a trial against two South Dakota corrections officials accused of deliberate indifference to an inmate’s medical needs and retaliation.
The lawsuit was filed by James Elmer Shaw against Associate Warden Troy Ponto and Unit Manager Al Madsen, alleging cruel and unusual punishment, the Argus Leader reported .
Shaw said he spent days in disciplinary segregation after a 2015 knee surgery for requesting a handicap cell. He said he was denied ice and the ability to elevate his knee while there, and was then investigated for allegedly stealing his medical records after announcing plans to sue.
Court documents indicate that Madsen admitted to denying Shaw’s request for pain medication and ice, but argued that he hadn’t seen the medical orders. But other corrections employees testified that medical orders follow inmates who move between cells within the facility.
U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier said the officials’ behavior toward a person who had just returned from surgery could be seen as evidence of deliberate cruelty.
“There is a question of fact as to whether Madsen was deliberately indifferent to Shaw’s medical needs,” Schreier said.
She ruled on Sept. 29 that a jury should decide if those actions amounted to retaliation for Shaw taking his complaints to court.
“The court finds that a cell search paired with being placed in the SHU (special housing unit) could be considered an adverse action that would chill an ordinary person from taking part in a protected activity,” the judge said.
The Corrections Department hasn’t responded to the order.
Shaw is in prison for attempted murder and aggravated assault.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com