The inadequacies of the Multnomah Health Department's Corrections Health division were made obvious in a recent expert witness opinion produced as part of a lawsuit against the county for excessive force and inadequate healthcare following the force. You can learn more about the excessive force claim by clicking on the link above the map on this page which says "Excessive Force Claim." The inadequate medical care claim is technically a separate distinct claim independent of the use of force claim. That means that even if the excessive force claim is lost that the question of whether the inmate received adequate care following the use of force must be resolved on its own.
CopBlaster.com founder Cyrus Sullivan had his arm broken at the Multnomah County Detention Center on June 28, 2017 by deputy Timothy Barker after he had threatened to post the home addresses of several staff members on the site if they took him to a disciplinary unit for a minor rule violation. It turned out that one of the staff members was Barker's wife Erika. Staff members stormed the cell and took Sullivan to the disciplinary unity where Barker got on top of Sullivan after he was already face down on a mattress in his new cell. Barker then uncuffed his left hand, twisted his left arm away from his body, and broke his left humerus in half before supervising sergeant Matthew Ingram shoved his head into the mattress and said "I run this f*cking jail not you!" Sullivan was then left in the cell in agony for an unknown amount of time before a nurse took one look at him, diagnosed him with a broken arm due to an obvious bump from the bone sticking out (fortunately not through the skin). Sullivan was taken to the Emergency Room at Oregon Health Sciences University for treatment. The quality of his care has been the subject of debate ever since.
OHSU resident Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Taylor R. Lara ordered that Sullivan be temporarily outfitted with a sling and swath to immobilize the arm before being brought back in a week to be fitted with a proper brace. That proper brace otherwise known as a functional brace or Sarmiento brace is regarded as the standard treatment for broken arms because it does a better job at immobilizing the arm than a sling and swath. Unfortunately, Multnomah County has a policy against taking inmates to outside medical appointments on days that they are scheduled to appear in court, so instead of taking Sullivan to his one week follow up they cancelled his appointment and took him to court. Then they re-scheduled him for about a week and a half later before doing the same thing again. The court has already ruled that jail records establish the existence of an actionable county custom of this nature. As a result, Sullivan was not taken back to OHSU for his one week follow-up until the fifth week. By that time his arm had already begun healing at a crooked angle. Today his arm is still crooked.
Sullivan filed a federal lawsuit in 2019 shortly before the statue of limitations was set to expire. The county filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims, but because Sullivan already had an expert witness capable of proving causation, so the court did not grant summary judgement as to the excessive force and medical claims. Instead, Sullivan was told that he needed to provide the court with expert testimony for the medical claim to survive. Sullivan retained the services of Dr. Clive Segil M.D. to review his medical records. Dr. Segil is a board certified orthopedic surgeon in California that is more than qualified to evaluate care of a broken arm. So qualified in fact that the defense has stated the don't intend to file any Daubert motions in this case. Daubert motions are motions challenging the qualifications of an expert. Now it is up to the defense to find qualified credible experts to rebut Sullivan's experts if they are going to have any hope of prevailing with their summary judgement motion regarding the medical claims. The summary judgment state was bifurcated in this case to address all issue not requiring experts first and those requiring them second. Sullivan does not believe that the defense can find a credible expert to refute his causation expert because the United States never provided any expert rebuttal when charging Sullivan with assaulting federal officers based on allegations fabricated by deputies.
Dr. Segil's opinion is being uploaded as a PDF with this article. The opinion begins by summarizing the reports reviews by Dr. Segil and concludes with his opinion. The best part of his opinion reads as follows:
"This fracture was improperly treated, and as a result, he is now suffering from a malunited fracture of his humerus with both anterior and varus angulation. He should have had proper immobilization for this fracture so that it would heal in an anatomical position. A Surgery should have been made available at the time of the injury in the form of an open reduction and internal fixation, which would result usually in a perfect healed humerus fracture." - Dr. Clive Segil M.D.
This opinion came as a shock to Sullivan because he was under the impression that surgery was not an option for him. Sullivan then tracked down Dr. Lara and asked him what he thought. Lara said he could only comment on Sullivan's description of his old injury without his records, but that based on his description he would not have ordered surgery citing some type of risk to a major nerve and paralysis. He then called a Sarmiento Brace the "gold standard" for treating fractures like that. He said the brace was named in honor of a Dr. Sarmieto that did a study which reported about a 90% success rate. At that point Sullivan realized that a conflict might exist between the two doctors both of which support the conclusion that Sullivan's care was inadequate, but to different degrees. The word "might" is being used because Dr. Lara did not have access to Sullivan's records at the time nearly 5 years later. One important point Dr. Lara raised in defense of Dr. Segil's critique was that Multnomah County never told him that Sullivan would not be allowed a Sarmiento Brace and that had he known of the restriction his treatment plan would have been different, but couldn't say what it would be. The suggestion of a Sarmiento Brace not being an option appeared to be a scenario new to Dr. Lara for which he couldn't think of an acceptable alternative.
Dr. Segil also chimed in on deputies' claims that Sullivan fought ferociously during transport from one floor to another after supposedly getting his arm broken in his original cell. We are using the word "supposedly" here because deputies gave conflicting stories in incident reports many of which report hearing a "pop" while cuffing Sullivan. The reports were clearly written to give the reader the impression that Sullivan's arm was broken during a legitimate use of force. Sullivan has never called the use of force in the original cell unjustified, but has always maintained that the evidence is not consistent with the story told by deputies. Had Sullivan sustained a minor fracture or at least a significantly less severe fracture their stories might make sense, but nobody is capable of sustaining a fracture as bad as Sullivan's without experiencing agonizing pain that would preclude them from fighting at all let alone showing no signs of pain until later. As Dr. Segil explains:
"Due to the severity of the injury, he would not have been able to fight ferociously, or engage in similar behavior, as clamed by the officers, with this type of injury. " - Dr. Clive Segil
Sullivan couldn't agree more with Dr. Segil on this issue. He hopes that this new report combined with the other might encourage an attorney to pick up the case on a contingency basis, but he isn't too optimistic. He has learned that the legal community and lawyers specifically tend to serve more as gatekeepers to the court unless potential clients check or don't check certain boxes that technically have nothing to do with their claims. Boxes like being a convicted felon, having priors for assaulting law enforcement personnel, or being convicted of any crime based on any of the defendants' accusations even though most of their accusations were neither admitted to nor proven or capable of being proven, but perhaps more relevant to potential lawyers is the fact that Sullivan has a history of bucking the entire legal system. When he was bucking the system he was a nightmare of a client for court appointed defense lawyers. He conducted himself in ways that forced them to work whether they wanted to or not. This led to the appointment of co-counsel even though that is rarely done in non-capital cases and certainly far rarer for people whose only charges are assaulting jail guards. The charges were federal because Sullivan was being housed on a United States Marshal hold at the time for violating the conditions of his federal supervised release by hacking monitoring software and posting a guide instructing anyone under supervision how to disable the software.
The feds thought if they held Sullivan in custody long enough on whatever violation they could throw at him that it would make their address disclosure problem go away simply because he wouldn't be able to maintain the site from jail. They had history on their side because they had done so in his underlying case, but unlike that case Sullivan was prepared this time and took steps to assure the operation of the site in the even that the United States with the full support of its courts attempted to take it down. Those steps consisted primarily on using service providers in other countries that as a matter of policy don't honor court orders from the United States. As a result, there was nothing they could do even after the judge "ordered" Sullivan to stop as a pre-trial detention confinement condition right before recusing himself in response to a letter Sullivan sent to his home asking him to do just that.
All of the information showing why Sullivan is cut from a cloth considered unrepresentable by most lawyers is readily available online. Civil litigators typically don't spend much time looking at potential cases. Certainly not enough time to get past media coverage of the letter to the judge's house and conclude based on that alone that they don't think the potential client is representable no matter how strong the evidence with the possible exception of video evidence with does not exist in this case because deputies at MCDC do not wear body cameras and none of the surveillance cameras (for which there are plenty) record anything. When asked for surveillance footage, the sheriff's office said the cameras are for observational purposes only. Even with video evidence, potential lawyers would still likely fear that it would only be a matter of time until everything is going right in the case only for it to be ruined by a courtroom outburst that the jury can't get past. They treat the idea of representing Sullivan in any adversarial court proceeding like taking Will Smith to a Chris Rock concert.
Sullivan looks forward to sharing the new expert witness opinion with new lawyers in the hope that one of them will look more on his good behavior in more recent years than conduct a forensic psychologist once labeled as a product of his environment due to being detained. Ever since a new prosecutor took his case, dropped it down to one charge of impeding deputies by throwing chips at them as they entered the original cell, and offered him time served despite the guidelines recommending far more, Sullivan's relationship with local law enforcement has been more amicable. His federal supervision was terminated early last November for good behavior and he wasn't accused of any violation during his last term despite only being allowed off two weeks early (https://copblaster.com/blast/45710/cop-blaster-founder-cyrus-sullivan-off-federal-supervision-finally). He has been free in the community for over three years with no new charges. If you think about that along with the fact that Sullivan only bucked the system when those in charge of upholding the Constitution violated his First Amendment rights by selectively prosecuting him for his speech when no other possible legal recourse existed other than throwing the book at him for whatever un-related law violation they could find. Then his shenanigans appear more like the work of a political protester perfectly capable or being represented in court as long as the court upholds the Constitution which shouldn't be too difficult for the court, but still courts often look at the Constitution as an obstacle to overcome in order to get what they want, so being basically law abiding lately might not be enough for him to get a lawyer.
See the video below to see what a Sarmiento Brace looks like. Notice how the brace in the video has a couple of metallic looking buttons? Those were the reasons given by deputies when they refused to let an orthopedic physicians' assistant give Sullivan a strikingly similar brace. They appear strikingly similar to buttons commonly found on white jumpsuits issued to inmates in disciplinary segregation at MCDC (ex https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/t_fit-1240w,f_auto,q_auto:best/newscms/2017_23/2028996/170607-jeremy-christian-fletcher-trial-se-01.jpg).