A diabetic and convicted murderer from Georgia will receive a $550,000 settlement from the state after suing over the loss of a leg.
The New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that the inmate, Michael Tarver, originally filed the suit in longhand and without legal aid over three years ago.
Tarver accused Dr. Chiquita Fye, the medical director at Macon State Prison, of being deliberately indifferent to an injury he’d sustained to his leg. Languishing in the facility’s infirmary for months, Tarver says his leg could have been saved if the doctor had given him proper care.
As part of the settlement’s conditions, a case against Fye will be dropped, rather than moving to trial on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell approved the settlement order while also ending the case against Fye, which would have been held in Macon.
Tarver’s attorney, Mike Brown of Augusta, said that Tarver is serving a sentence without life parole and plans to distribute a “good portion” of the money to his family.
The 55-year old inmate was found guilty of the 1994 murder of a Columbus convenience store clerk.
Despite the settlement and allegations against Fye, Georgia Correctional HealthCare said it would stand behind the Macon facility director.
GCHC said it had conducted an ‘extensive review’ of Fye’s conduct and determined that she had a displayed a long-standing history of professionalism and care. Fye is among the longest-tenured physicians working for GCHC, having been the medical director at Macon since 2006.
“GCHC human resources professionals interviewed providers at Macon State Prison and found that Dr. Fye continually exhibits professionalism and sound judgment when caring for her patients,” wrote Augusta University spokeswoman Christen Engel.
Augusta University is responsible for providing medical services to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
However, Engel, as reported by The New York Times, did say that GCHC is taking steps to improve wound care and ensure physicians and providers have better options.
Although GCHC was stalwart in its defense of Fye, a Times report, published last month, casts some doubt upon the claims of professionalism.
The Times interviewed six former healthcare workers at the prison, who, in depositions and interviews, said Fye was extremely disdainful of the criminals under her care. Sometimes, they said, Fye would withhold ‘vital treatment’ if she suspected that her patients were ‘faking’ or trying to game the prison medical system.
Tarver’s leg was amputated above the knee in 2012.
He had slipped and fell in the prison kitchen, sustaining a small, dime-sized cut above his ankle. As a diabetic, Tarver was more susceptible to infection – despite that, the wound was ‘allowed to become dangerously toxic,’ even while he was placed under observation at the Macon State Prison infirmary.