Prison settlement raises awareness of stroke symptoms, treatment

When a 51-year-old Hillsborough County Little League coach and school district employee headed out on Interstate 275 one fateful May day, he had no idea it would end in disaster. He probably had no idea what was happening when his car swerved off the road into a guardrail. And when police commanded him to exit the car, he may have been wondering why his brain suddenly could no longer command his body and mouth as it always could. We’ll never know what was going through his mind, though, because that man would never speak again.

He was arrested on the charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer, and spent 36 hours in jail without a medical screening before he finally was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with an ischemic stroke. After three months in a coma, the baseball coach and beloved father died.

There are so many questions here. Why did the apprehending state trooper not notice his bizarre and incoherent behavior, or his one-sided paralysis? Was his accident and behavior presumed to be intoxication-related? The man reportedly had no alcohol odor on his breath, and was behaving erratically.

Why did the man not receive a medical screening once arrested? His stroke-related symptoms were written off at first to defiance, intoxication and then to psychiatric issues. When he finally received a medical exam many hours later, he was lying in his own urine and unable to move or talk. If he had been diagnosed quickly, he could have been given a life-saving, clot-dissolving medication. Their failure to diagnose was a clear case of medical malpractice. Records indicate that the correctional facility’s private health services contractor is providing new stroke recognition training to employees, but the damage for one family is already done.

While the surviving children will receive a settlement totaling $1 million, the award will not bring back their father. They were fortunate to have a skilled lawyer advocating on their behalf to help compensate for their pain, suffering and loss due to medical malpractice. You are also entitled to that right.

SourceTampa Bay Times, “Report: Inmate’s untreated, fatal stroke results in $1 million settlement by Hillsborough sheriff, jail medical provider” Peter Jamison, Jul. 06, 2013