ATLANTA — A diabetic inmate serving a life sentence for murder has won $550,000 from Georgia for a lawsuit alleging he lost his leg because of improper care and neglect by a prison doctor.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the state agreed to the settlement for Michael Tarver, which means the case against Dr. Chiquita Fye, the medical director at Macon State Prison, won’t go to trial Monday. It also ends a legal proceeding that began three years ago with a lawsuit written in longhand and filed without the aid of an attorney.
Tarver’s federal lawsuit asserted that Fye was deliberately indifferent to his injury as he languished for months in the prison infirmary. Deliberate indifference to a prison inmate’s medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell earlier this week signed off on the settlement order. The case was scheduled for trial Monday in Treadwell’s court in Macon.
The amount of the settlement was disclosed to the newspaper by Mike Brown, an Augusta attorney who began representing Tarver when the case entered the discovery phase. Brown said Tarver, who is 55 and serving a sentence of life without parole for the 1994 murder of a Columbus convenience store clerk, plans to distribute a “good portion” of the money to his family.
Fye, 65, has been the medical director at the prison since 2006, making her one of the longest-tenured physicians working for Georgia Correctional HealthCare, the branch of Augusta University that provides medical services for the Department of Corrections.
Despite the settlement, Georgia Correctional HealthCare stands behind Fye, a university spokeswoman said. Christen Engel, the school’s associate vice president for communications, said that conclusion was reached after what the university believes was an extensive review of Fye’s conduct.
“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,” Engel wrote in an email.