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Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of paraplegic inmate

The family and estate of a paralyzed Baltimore man who died three years ago after falling ill in a state prison have filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging medical staff failed to get him the necessary specialized care and monitoring.

Anthony Arnold Diggs was given a 10-year sentence for armed robbery in 2009 and underwent an inmate screening at the Baltimore City Central Booking and Intake Facility, where it was noted he would need accommodations because of his condition, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

The screening documents stated Diggs had skin breakdowns if he sat for too long and would not be able to feel them on his lower extremities. Specialty services were recommended, including placement in a chronic care clinic, but Diggs “received sporadic and limited medical treatment,” according to the complaint.

“They identified him as someone who would need that kind of care and he simply never got it,” said Anton L. Iamele, the attorney representing Diggs’ family and estate.

Despite a history of skin lesions, there were years when Diggs was not evaluated or checked for skin breakdowns, according to Iamele, of Iamele & Iamele LLP in Baltimore.

Diggs was evaluated for complaints of shortness of breath and intermittent pain around 5 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2012, according to the complaint. Hours later, Diggs was taken to the medical unit and evaluated by a doctor who noted “no impressive skin legions.”

Records of the physical exam do not include reference to a skin examination, according to the complaint, and by 5:30 p.m. a doctor had diagnosed him with sepsis and anemia and ordered a transfer to an emergency room.

Tests at the hospital revealed an “extensive infection” and three wounds from ulcers on his lower extremities, according to the complaint. Diggs was unstable following surgery and died Oct. 30. He is survived by his son and parents.

In May 2012, Wexford Health Sources Inc. became the medical care provider for Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, replacing Corizon Inc.

According to the complaint, Diggs continued to receive limited treatment under the new provider and did not receive a skin integrity exam for months.

Iamele said there were omissions by each care provider, and the lawsuit brings wrongful death and survival actions against each entity as well as the DPSCS.

Inmates have no choice in care provider, according to Iamele, and if the prison system’s care provider doesn’t properly monitor and treat them, there is no second opinion.

“His ability to get medical care is filtered exclusively through that company and their agents,” Iamele said.

A request for comment from Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health was not immediately returned Friday.

The case is Estate of Anthony Arnold Diggs et al. v. Corizon Inc. et al., 24C15005448.