A woman who claims she was mistreated at the Douglas County Jail was set to be back in federal District Court in Eugene on Wednesday afternoon.
Terri Carlisle had originally sued the county government, but settled with the county out of court in February.
She’s still suing two other defendants, the Kansas-based private medical company Correct Care Solutions, which contracted with the county to provide inmates’ medical care, and Steven Blum, the doctor who provided Carlisle’s care in the jail.
Carlisle claimed while she was serving her sentence at the jail in 2015, pain medicine for excruciating nerve pain caused by neuropathy was withheld for 65 days despite repeated complaints to staff and a plea from her family doctor.
Her case was taken up by ACLU of Oregon.
Carlisle had also alleged she was moved to a 12-by-16 foot punishment cell after jail staff found she had kept salt, a pencil sharpener, fingernail clippers, ibuprofen, a stool softener, and a single nerve pain pill, according to the ACLU. The pain pill in question was Neurontin, which is not a narcotic. She said she had forgotten to take it.
She had also complained of poor conditions generally for women in the punishment cell, where she alleged a dozen women were denied showers and had to beg for toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. She said some of the women had menstrual blood soiled clothing, were vomiting or had diarrhea. She said in the five days she spent in that cell she was never given a shower.
Carlisle was in the county jail for six months, from Feb. 9 to Aug. 4, 2015, on a conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants. For 10 years prior to her incarceration, Carlisle had been taking the Neurontin to manage her neuropathy symptoms.
The terms of her settlement with the county included $25,000 for her attorneys and a promise that inmates would receive regular showers, clean clothing, hygiene supplies and medications prescribed by their doctors.
Although the remaining defendants are Correct Care Solutions and physician Steven Blum, neither of whom is a part of the county government, the ACLU is continuing to press Carlisle’s constitutional claim. The ACLU argues that Correct Care and Blum acted with deliberate indifference toward Carlisle’s medical needs, thus violating her Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.
“When we outsource jail medical care to out-of-state, for-profit companies, it can be harder to hold them accountable, but we won’t give up,” ACLU of Oregon Staff Attorney Kelly Simon said in a written statement. “They must treat people in their care humanely and safely. We will keep fighting for justice for Terri Carlisle and for policy changes.”
Correct Care and Blum argued in court documents, however, that they were following widely accepted jail policy. The fact that Carlisle had kept a Neurontin pill rather than taking it meant she was hoarding it, the document said.
A loose Neurontin tablet in Carlisle’s cell was a risk to her health and well-being and the safety of others, the document said, and the medication wasn’t critical for her. It also said Carlisle refused to meet with Blum to discuss alternative pain management.