Federal Civil Rights Litigation


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Adkins v Morgan County – docket # 16-cv-525 – Eastern District of Tennessee

Paralyzed inmate’s lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages against Morgan County

By Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel

When James Travis Adkins could no longer walk, his fellow cellmates in the Morgan County jail begged for help, but jailers said he was faking.

He wasn’t. Now, Adkins is paralyzed and likely will be for the rest of life.

So alleges a $10 million civil-rights lawsuit filed late last week in U.S. District Court against Morgan County, Sheriff Glen Freytag and various jail staff. Freytag did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Attorneys Keith L. Edmiston and Kimberly Cambron say in the lawsuit that Adkins remains hospitalized at Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville, where he underwent emergency surgery for an untreated spinal infection that has rendered him a paraplegic.

Adkins in April was booked into the Morgan County jail to serve a short stint for violating probation conditions in an earlier case. He was set to be released in late July.

But in early June, Adkins began experiencing back pain. According to the lawsuit, the pain grew worse in the following weeks.

In mid-July, Adkins was taken by jailers to a medical facility in Oak Ridge, “where he was diagnosed as having a pulled muscle,” the lawsuit stated. “He was prescribed Motrin and an ice pack.”

Two days later, the pain extended from his lower back to his legs. The lawsuit alleges jailers promised Adkins a nurse would examine him, but the nurse never came to his cell.

“Mr. Adkins had to spend that entire night in a hot shower to help with his pain,” the lawsuit stated. “Eventually, Mr. Adkins could not walk and could not control his bladder.”

Adkins’ cellmate begged a jailer for medical help for Adkins, but the lawsuit states the corrections officer accused Adkins of faking, saying, “There is nothing wrong with you.”

“That evening, the cells were being painted, and the inmates had to vacate each cell as the painters would arrive at the cell,” the lawsuit stated. “Mr. Adkins had to be carried by his cellmates out of the cell on a jail mattress. Jail personnel and correctional officers witnessed Mr. Adkins being carried from his cell but still offered no assistance and did not provide medical attention.”

Another day passed with pleas for help for Adkins ignored, according to the lawsuit. Adkins “could not move his legs at all” by that point, the lawyers alleged. Eventually, a jail nurse ordered Adkins taken to a hospital, where a test showed he had a spinal infection, the lawsuit stated.

According to the lawsuit, Adkins was transferred to Parkwest, where he remains.

“After the surgery, Mr. Adkins was informed by the physician that he will never walk again or have control of his bladder,” the lawsuit stated.