Prison sued over fungus on inmate’s brain
Kansas City, Mo. — A Kansas prison inmate died in April after a brain fungus gave him a form of meningitis that left him weak and so disoriented that he drank his own urine while prison health care staff ignored his pleas for help, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of his mother and daughter.
Marques Davis complained for months about symptoms at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, his attorney, Leland Dempsey, said in the lawsuit filed this week in federal court, The Kansas City Star reported.
“It feels like something is eating my brain,” Davis told Corizon Health employees who staffed the prison infirmary in December 2016, according to the lawsuit.
It names as defendants Corizon, a private prison health care company contracted to provide health care at the state’s prisons, as well as 14 Corizon employees, three doctors and 11 nurses.
“No amount of money in the world could ever replace my child, but somebody needs to be held accountable and this (needs to not) happen to anybody else,” said Davis’ mother, Shermaine Walker, of Wichita.
Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin said privacy laws prohibit the company from discussing details of Davis’ care but “we expect any legal proceedings to reveal Mr. Davis’ care was appropriate.”
At the time of his death, Davis had spent eight years in prison for several crimes, including attempted murder, his mother said.
The lawsuit alleges that Corizon didn’t help Davis until April 12, when he was taken to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center after he suffered a heart attack. He was declared brain dead and taken off life support the next day. An autopsy found the cause of death was advanced granulomatous meningoencephalitis, a form of meningitis that Dempsey said was caused by the Candida Albicans fungus.
Walker said she visited her son regularly at prison and tried unsuccessfully several times to get Corizon to help him.
“This was an everyday thing for me, calling over there telling them about things he’s complaining to me about but also the things I’m seeing,” Walker said. “He’s losing weight tremendously, he’s sweating, his skin color is changing.”
The lawsuit alleges that Corizon staff reported several times they thought Davis was faking his illness. A Kansas Department of Corrections website lists more than 40 disciplinary infractions for Davis while he was in prison, most of them before he got sick.
An infirmary report from the week before Davis’ death faults him for refusing food and failing to get out of bed to use the toilet. Instead, he urinated in his water pitcher, which he then drank out of “time and again.”