Former inmate who suffered from alcohol withdrawal sues correctional officers

By Jon Campisi | Jul 14, 2011

A suburban Philadelphia prison inmate who claims to have suffered ill effects of alcohol withdrawal at the indifference of prison staff is suing the prison, its warden and three correctional officers in federal court.

Lancaster, Pa. attorney Kevin C. Allen and Jamison, Pa. attorney William Habib filed the federal civil rights lawsuit July 11 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Daniel Wilf.

The defendants in the suit are the County of Bucks, Terrance P. Moore, who’s listed as the warden of the Bucks County Correctional Facility, corrections officer Jeff Morrietti and two other prison staffers named only as John Doe and Jane Roe.

According to the filing, Wilf, who has since been released from prison, and is currently listed at living in Warrington, Pa., was incarcerated at the Bucks County Correctional Facility on October 17, 2009 on charges not specified in the lawsuit.

From Oct. 18 to 19, Wilf was, for various times, housed in the prison’s dispensary.

According to the complaint, prison staff was, at this time, either notified of, or had personally witnessed the fact that Wilf was suffering from the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Morrietti and other prison employees were notified by Wilf’s relatives that he required “close observation, medical care and the medication necessary to control his condition of severe alcohol withdraw (sic) symptoms and detoxification.”

However, the suit states, Wilf did not receive the attention he required.

“Once incarcerated, Plaintiff did not receive necessary medical care and did not receive the required medication,” related to alcohol withdrawal, the lawsuit states.

Wilf, the complaint states, went on to exhibit bizarre behavior, such as ingesting shampoo, hitting his head against the wall, suffering from tremors and facial bleeding, experiencing convulsions and seizures, and undergoing episodes of unconsciousness.

Still, prison staff continued to refuse to provide Wilf with the proper medical attention, the suit states.

During the two-day period in which Wilf suffered these reactions, from Oct. 17 to 19, defendants Morretti, Doe and Roe assaulted the plaintiff, the lawsuit states, causing him multiple contusions, rib fractures, pain, suffering and mental anguish, the lawsuit states.

On Oct. 19, Wilf was taken to Doylestown Hospital, where he had to be admitted to intensive care relating to his various physical injuries, which included, but was not limited to, scratches, lacerations, bruises, pulmonary contusion and acute renal failure.

The following day, the suit states, Wilf’s family was unable to locate him at the correctional facility, since they had not been told of their relative’s transportation to the hospital.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of reckless indifference to Wilf’s safety, and claim Wilf’s civil rights were violated in the course of his incarceration. The lawsuit also claims the defendants violated Wilf’s rights under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit also contains a count of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, since Wilf was classified as a person with a disability having suffered from chronic alcoholism.

Wilf is seeking damages in excess of $150,000 for physical injuries, mental and emotional pain and suffering, and attorney’s fees, as well as punitive damages, delay costs and other related court relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-04416-CMR.

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