Former prisoner claims guards were indifferent to his diagnoses; Personal injury suit filed

By Jon Campisi | Jun 21, 2011

A former prisoner is suing the acting secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and other prison employees for an alleged dismissal of his medical conditions, a nonchalance that ultimately led to the plaintiff getting injured.

Philadelphia attorney Pietro A. Barbieri filed the personal injury civil claim June 16 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Mousa Shihadeh.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are acting Pennsylvania Department of Corrections secretary Shirley Moore Smeal, Jose Castro, the facility manager at the state prison at 407 N. 8th St. in Philadelphia, and two John Does who are not named. One is listed as the accommodations coordinator at the city prison in question, and the other is a prison guard at that location.

According to the complaint, Shihadeh was made to work and exist in conditions that he knew would cause him harm because of medical diagnoses.

As far back as July 29, 2008, Shihadeh was told he suffered from several serious medical conditions, and was given doctor instructions not to lift anything in excess of 20 pounds, not to engage in intense labor, not to work in humid conditions and not to work near respiratory pollutants, the lawsuit states.

In November 2009, Shihadeh was again given a medical exam, which revealed that he suffered from a gastrointestinal disorder, hypertension, anxiety and asthma.

In late December, the same medical restrictions were placed upon the plaintiff, the lawsuit states. Nevertheless, a couple of months later, while engaged in mandated labor, Shihadeh became injured by being thrown to the floor by a floor-waxing device.

The lawsuit maintains that prison officials were “deliberately indifferent” to the plaintiff’s serious medical needs, and that they failed to provide adequate care and treatment for the conditions suffered by Shihadeh.

The complaint alleges that corrections department leadership failed to properly train its employees with regard to inmate needs.

As a result of the incident, Shihadeh was required to undergo medical treatment at his own expense, will be prevented from carrying out his normal activities and pursuits, and will experience a loss of earnings.

The suit states that Shihadeh is currently a resident of Coatesville, Pa., indicating that he has apparently since been released from prison.

Shihadeh demands a judgment against the defendants in an amount in excess of $75,000, exclusive of interest and related court costs.

The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial. The case currently awaits judicial assignment.

The case number is 110601366.

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