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Medical Malpractice Case In Oklahoma Involving Inmate And Contract Medical Provider

A judge in a Tulsa federal court declined a defense motion for dismissal in a case of medical negligence involving a former jail inmate who endured severe injuries initiated by seizures. In 2014, Catherine Freeman began a three-year sentence in the Tulsa Jail. Freeman, who was 38, had been previously prescribed medications for treatment of pain, depression, and anxiety upon beginning her incarceration. The jail’s healthcare provider was Armor Correctional Services. Freeman claims that the defendants, who included the Sheriff, Armor and Tulsa County, exhibited deliberate indifference that led to her injuries that resulted in a need to be placed on a ventilator and a feeding tube.

Judge James Payne ruled against allowing the motion for dismissal filed by Armor, who has since been replaced (2016) by Turn-Key Health. Freeman claims to have explained to jail and healthcare staff that she was in need of her prescribed medications, which she stated, could trigger seizures and suicidal tendencies. Soon after, she began having repeated seizures, which eventually began to last for 10 minutes or more. The suit attempts to prove that the medical care provided to the inmates of the facility was deficient throughout the system.

Sheriff Stanley Glanz is named among those who are said to have demonstrated negligence, “supervisor liability” and committed violations of the constitution. He is accused of being well aware of the deficient medical standards provided in the facility and failing to make necessary steps to correct the problem. Freeman suffered the following medical concerns:

  • Medical staff allegedly installed a ventilation tube improperly, which caused a tear in her esophagus leading her into a state of cardiac arrest.
  • Collapsed lungs
  • Respiratory problems
  • Muscle deterioration
  • An anoxic injury to the brain that occurred from being deprived of oxygen

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections website states that Freeman was released in 2015. She claims that her problems have continued and many are permanent in nature.

Oklahoma’s laws involved with medical malpractice are summarized as follows:

  • When a claim is brought against a provider or facility, a report is to be submitted to the board or agency responsible for their licensing within 60 days
  • The report must contain the following:
    • Name and address of provider
    • Contact information for the claimant
    • Brief summary of injury, condition, and cause for action
    • Any pending case information such as court, case number etc.
  • The statute of limitations is two years from the date the claimant knew of (or should have known) the existence of the injury, condition or death.
  • In these negligence actions, a presumption of negligence exists if the following are established:
    • The claimant was injured
    • The injury was caused while within the defendant’s control
    • This injury would otherwise not exist in the circumstances unless negligence had occurred
    • Based on the court’s discretion, expert testimony is necessary from someone knowledgeable about the specific field of medicine

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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