Third claim filed against jail

Lack of medical treatment again cause of suit
Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:58 PM

Editor's note: Some parts of this story are medically explicit in detail. Please be aware of that before reading on.

The Sevier County Jail is now facing a third lawsuit from a former inmate who claims he didn’t get proper treatment from the medical staff.Timothy Clabough is seeking $1 million in the lawsuit, filed in federal court. He says he suffered a staph infection while at the jail and eventually found that he had damage to his spleen, colon and large intestine that he says caused doctors to remove his large intestine.

Clabough was arrested for violation of probation Oct. 5, 2011. In the lawsuit, attorney Dan Stanley says Clabough told a judge about health conditions he suffered on Nov. 28, 2011, when he was ordered to spend more time in jail for the probation violation. He was placed in the medical pod of the jail after that, but is claiming he received improper medical care despite being there.

Sheriff Ron Seals and First Med officials declined to comment on the new complaint, which was filed this week.

Sometime after the Nov. 28 court appearance Clabough says he started to pass blood in his stool and told jail personnel about it. “in order to request medical attention, plaintiff was required to fill out a medical request form,” Stanely wrote. “Plaintiff was charged $5 for each form he filled out.’

He was allowed to see a doctor at one point, and was told to collect a specimen for analysis and was given supplies to provide one.

Then, nurse Tammy Finchum — whose name has appeared in other lawsuits related to the jail medical staff — took the supplies away, according to the lawsuit. “Defendant Finchum took the sticks from plaintiff, and told him to use his finger to collect the stool sample,” Stanley writes.

Left with those orders and without a private toilet, he did not provide a sample.

He eventually developed a staph infection in his groin area “the size of a baseball,” the lawsuit states.

He asked to see a doctor, but Finchum lanced the growth in the jail while jail personnel handcuffed him and held him down, he said.

Eventually, Finchum took a blood sample on Feb. 28, 2012.

On Feb. 29, he was taken to the LeConte Medical Center, where personnel gave him a CT scan and found that he had three abscesses on his spleen and a blood clot in the organ, the complaint says.

He was told he needed emergency surgery, but was first taken back to the jail.

“Within an hour, plaintiff was told that he had flattened his time, and he was being released,” Stanley writes. “His original release date was March 24, 2012.”

Finchum drove him back to the hospital after he was released from jail, and he was eventually transferred to Fort Sanders Medical Center in Knoxville.

There, he was told his colon was so badly damaged that his large intestine would have to be removed. That was done on April 24, 2012.

Stanley argues that he was denied appropriate medial treatment and subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, extreme and outrageous conduct and infliction of emotional distress.

Clabough is asking for $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages; he wants a jury trial.

In addition to the sheriff’s office, the county and Sheriff Ron Seals, the lawsuit names First Med — the clinic hired by the county to provide health care at the jail — as well as its owner, Dr. Robert Maughon, and Finchum.

Finchum, who is nursing supervisor at the jail, is named in two other lawsuits filed by inmates complaining about treatment by First Med and jail personnel.

The family of Billy Duane Foster filed a lawsuit after he died while being held in the jail; that lawsuit indicates that a nurse had ordered him taken to a local hospital after he started suffering seizures, but Finchum ordered him taken back into the jail and he died there a short time later.

An inmate who was left paralyzed after being attacked by another prisoner has sued the jail as well, and accused Finchum and other personnel of treating him as though he were faking his injuries and failing to provide proper care. In that case, Finchum has admitted she told ambulance personnel to respond to the incident on non emergency status when she called for the stricken inmate to be taken to a hospital.

Both cases are still awaiting trial in federal court.

Finchum is also named in a separate lawsuit filed by an inmate acting as his own attorney who claims he was denied medicine he was prescribed for a psychological condition. Phillip Wright does not name the county in his complaint.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com