A former Montgomery County Jail inmate is claiming jail officials there ignored his repeated requests over the safety of his cell, resulting in him falling and breaking his hip, according to a new lawsuit.
Robert Staley, who has only one leg, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Albany contending that he had to use a wheelchair in the jail and was given a cell with a supposedly accessible shower. However, the shower lacked a curtain, so water frequently got into the rest of the cell. If he had the chair close to the shower, it got soaked.
He contends he repeatedly requested help and a shower curtain but was denied.
He entered the jail on forgery charges Jan. 21, 2014. On March 5, the suit alleges, while hopping on his good leg from the shower to his wheelchair, he slipped on water and broke the hip above his good leg.
“His complaints to medical staff were routinely ignored and/or refused, in that Mr. Staley was informed that he could handle the transfers on his own,” the suit reads. “Corrections officers who witnessed his struggles informed Mr. Staley that they were instructed by medical staff not to help him.”
The suit, filed last week in Albany, names as defendants Montgomery County, Sheriff Michael Amato, jail administrator Michael Franko and members of the jail medical staff.
Montgomery County Attorney Doug Landon this week told The Gazette he had not seen the suit and declined to comment.
Staley is represented by attorney E. Robert Keach, who declined to comment.
Staley’s left leg was previously amputated above the knee due to complications from diabetes, but he could walk with a prosthesis. He had to use the wheelchair in jail, according to the lawsuit, because he was not allowed to use his prosthetic leg while incarcerated.
The lawsuit does not accuse the county of any wrongdoing for not allowing use of his prosthesis. The suit centers around the shower he was given to use, which “purportedly” was handicapped-accessible.
But, in order to use the shower, Staley had to transfer by hopping on one leg to a shower stool. The only grab bar was outside the shower. The hopping was itself difficult due to his medical conditions, the suit reads.
Along with that, the shower had no curtain, resulting in the cell flooding every time he took a shower. He also had to push his wheelchair farther away to prevent it from getting wet.
He repeatedly expressed his concerns over the next few weeks, the suit reads. At one point, a nurse came and determined he did not need help after observing him transfer under dry conditions and with the wheelchair close by.
Finally, on March 5, he slipped in water and fell, breaking the hip above his good leg. He required extensive surgery as a result, the suit reads.
“Prior to this incident, Mr. Staley was able to walk with a prosthetic limb,” the suit reads. “However, the severe injuries he suffered in the Montgomery County Jail have potentially ended his ability to walk, and may require him to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.”