A former state prison inmate has filed suit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections alleging the fractured spinal column he sustained after falling from his cell bunk during a sleepwalking episode was due to the fact that prison officials ignored his request for ground-level bedding.
Newtown, Pa. attorney Christopher J. Culleton filed the federal complaint Feb. 6 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Chester, Pa. resident Anthony DeSalis.
According to the complaint, DeSalis was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institute in Chester in early December of last year, when, during intake procedures upon admission, DeSalis requested to be placed on medical restrictions due to a sleep disorder history.
Specifically, DeSalis had a history of falling from beds due to his prevalent sleepwalking. His disorder, the suit states, was defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After being examined by prison medical staff, DeSalis was placed on medical restrictions, which included a lower bunk sleeping arrangement, the lawsuit states.
After DeSalis was placed into a cell, however, he discovered that his cellmate, who also had similar medical restrictions requiring specialized sleeping arrangements, was occupying the bottom bunk.
DeSalis ended up having to take the top bunk, and during his first night at the prison, he ended up falling from the bed and sustaining serious injuries, including fractured spinal column vertebras, a fractured shoulder blade, multiple rib fractures and a head laceration requiring multiple stitches, the complaint states.
The lawsuit blames prison staff for the incident, saying corrections officers “recklessly, willfully, intentionally and maliciously forced plaintiff to sleep on an upper bunk in violation of intake restrictions, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff sustained severe and permanent injuries that have caused him “great pain, anguish, fear and consternation.”
DeSalis has also incurred wage losses, diminished future earnings and medical expenses because of his injuries, the complaint alleges.
DeSalis seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $150,000, plus interest, delay damages and other court costs.
He had demanded a jury trial.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00611-CMR.