Two Bucks County prison inmates were awarded a total of $1.2 million by a federal jury in Philadelphia for contracting flesh-eating bacteria (MRSA or methicillin-resistant staphlococcus aureus, also known as “staph”). After a six day trial, the jury found that both prisoners’ civil rights were violated by being jailed in unsanitary conditions causing them to become becoming infected with dangerous bacteria of MRSA. The jury awarded $800,000 to one inmate and $400,000 to the second inmate, who developed serious staph infections on their skin and muscles, including their scrotum, and developed abscesses. MRSA is frequently a very destructive bacteria that can eat away at the skin and other tissues causing devastating injuries. This bacteria is resistant to most commonly used antibiotics and can be a very agressive infecttion resulting in permanent disability and death.
In 2002, 31 inmates tested poitive for MRSA infection at the Bucks County prison in Doylestown, Pennsylvania when a federal magistrate judge ordered over 1,000 prisoners to be tested for the infection. Problems surrounding MRSA infections have become numerous in institutions, including prisons, around the country. In Bucks County, their are still 17 additional court cases concerning prisoner MRSA infection that are pending with the Court. In the State of Delawarem there have also been complaints in the prisons surrounding MRSA infections and proper health care for prisoners.
This case was brought as a civil rights lawsuit, under section 1983, in federal court, because of the involvement of the state in running an unsanitary condition. There can also be cases involving MRSA infections for delay of diagnosis of this condition and not instituting approrpiate and timely medical care for the life-threatening infection. Such cases are usually brought in state court under medical malpractice theories.