nmate awarded $549K after pain medication for MS denied

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $549,000 to a Washington state inmate with multiple sclerosis who was repeatedly denied nonaddictive nerve-pain medication by prison staff.

The Seattle Times reports the jury in Tacoma last week found that three prison medical staffers showed “deliberate indifference” to Etienne Choquette’s pain and medical needs when they refused to allow him medication that was prescribed to him by a neurologist.

Choquette was awarded $149,000 in compensatory damages for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights and $400,000 in punitive damages.

The state Attorney General’s Office, which defended the three prison officials, deferred comments to Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay who said the department is still “reviewing and assessing the ruling.”

One of Choquette’s lawyers said the jury sent a strong message that prisoners must be treated with basic human dignity.