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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Virginia Inmate's "Clinically Insignificant" Broken Hand Spurs Lawsuit: For the DOC, it's DeJa'Vu

Written by: Sam Orlando

ROANOKE, VA – Déjà vu, anyone? Once again, the Virginia Department of Corrections finds itself ensnared in allegations of, shall we say, misguided medical assessments. In a Bland Correctional Center drama starring inmate Thomas Robert Craig, Jr., the recent discovery was a broken hand deemed by prison medical staff as "clinically insignificant." This prognosis, revealed mere days after X-rays confirmed the fractures, prompts the question: which anatomy class did these medical professionals attend?

It's a head-scratcher, especially considering a similar incident from less than a decade ago. Recall when John Kinlaw, incarcerated at the Lunenburg Correctional Center, faced an equally Kafkaesque scenario. According to Court records for Kinlaw's case (See: Kinlaw v. Nwaokocha, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Va.), Case No. 3:17-cv-00772-REP), after breaking his finger in 2016, Kinlaw's pleas for immediate medical attention fell on indifferent ears. Despite clear indications of a severe injury, Kinlaw's treatment was delayed, leading to irreversible damage. The cherry on top? A whopping $1.05 million jury award in Kinlaw's favor in 2019 for medical malpractice and negligence. That payout, mind you, was believed to be one of the highest-ever for a Virginia Department of Corrections prisoner in a medical malpractice case.

Craig’s consistent efforts to sound the alarm went unanswered. Perhaps the prison's grievance system was too inundated with "insignificant" concerns?

While Mr. Craig seeks compensatory and punitive damages, Virginia taxpayers might be ruminating over a past déjà vu moment, asking, "Are we about to foot another million-dollar bill?" And it begs the question, given that the Department of Corrections is in the business of "corrections," shouldn’t it be better at correcting its recurring missteps?

Whether this sequel proves costlier than its predecessor remains to be seen. But one thing is sure: Virginia taxpayers and the Department of Corrections might want to pull up a seat for the show. Who knows, there could be more "insignificant" plot twists ahead.

Stay tuned for more updates on this unfolding drama and potential lessons in how not to repeat history.


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