Officials Mistreat Handicapped Man
Lack of medication and other problems lead to death
I have a story that I would like to tell you about. My name is Sidney Teich and my fathers name was Patrick Friel. My father was my best friend and we were very close even after the U.S. Marshals whisked him out of his wheelchair when he was remanded into custody on 2/16/95 at the Folley Federal Building here in Las Vegas.
You see my father was a nonfunctional C4 quadriplegic. That meant that he could not move from his neck down. My father was pled guilty on a CCR and was sentenced to 156 months at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. My father had been paralyzed since 1976 when he broke his neck in a motorcycle race. I know you are probably asking yourself how could a paralyzed man commit this crime and even if he did, how could they send him to prison. Well, he pled guilty on a plea bargain the morning his trial was to start. He did not want to plea but at the risk of my sister possibly being incarcerated for her counts he agreed with some stipulations that were supposed to be amended but weren't.
When my father was immediately remanded into custody it was horrible. Number one why did they remove him from his wheelchair? It wasn't likely that he was going to start a high speed chase. They sent him to Springfield without his chair. That chair was his legs. It is not easy for someone who suffers from paraplegia to adjust to a new chair. When he finally called us we asked how he was and he said he said that he was impacted, his hair and teeth were not washed for three days, and he was cold. He never told us all the horrible details of his care. He did not want us to worry so much but we still did.
I flew out there 4 times to visit. It was not cheap to go from Vegas to Springfield. I was 6 months pregnant at the time of his conviction and I had to wait 4 months to see him. His appearance changed drastically in the 21 months that he lived there. He had 19 urinary tract infections in that short of a time period. They treated him the antibiotics that he was resistant to. He died November 10, 1997, from Septicemia. In August he had been diagnosed with an infection and the doctor choose not to treat it.
The words cruel and unusual punishment were defined by the treatment and care that my father received. Because of his disability he had to stay on the floor designated for terminally ill prisoners. He had roommates with aids, cancer, TB you name it. He would have to lay there and listen to them suffer and watch them die. There was over seventy deaths in that time period. The prison staff would not assist him in daily life activities like using the phone or writing letters. Even in regard to his appeal and counsel but, thats a whole other story. My sister and I sent other inmates money so that they would help him out.
When he died we were in shock. How could my best friend die. I immediately tried to find out how. I requested the autopsy and death certificate. They sent the death certificate and that was all. I tried to obtain the only attorney in this town who I felt was strong enough to go up against the government. After a couple of months he declined but told me about the 2 year statute and that at that particular time they could not do it, but that did not mean that I did not have a claim. I was frustrated and then a few months went by and one ay I was digging through boxes and I came across one in particular box that my dad had mailed me after he had been there for a year. He told me set it away because you never know when we might need it. I opened the box and he first paper I picked up stated on numerous occasion prisoner arrived without medical records and medication lists. We never knew they did not have them. His attorney and the U.S. prosecutor were supposed to make sure that his medical needs were to be met.
The records were in no order so I started to organize and index them. I tried to request the 3000 documents that I was missing from the point of mailing until his death. The Bureau seen me 100 to save me money. I had to obtain help from U.S. Senator Harry Reids office along with Congressman Ensigns office. I then started researching attorneys again, but I knew I had to have Cal Potter he was the best. I showed him the records and he immediately accepted even though he told me our odds. It took up until one week before the statute for the rest of the papers to arrive.
To make a long story short after notifying them about our intention to file a tort under the Federal Torts Reclamation Act (advanced warning, benefit one) they never replied (default judgment does not apply when the government is a party, benefit two) We filed or complaint on days before statute of limitations ran out. After about one year. The Attorney Generals Office in Nevada called my attorney and requested a settlement conference. On March 24, 1999, we settled this matter. The Settlement Conference took five hours. The Magistrate, Assist. Attorney General and my attorney went through discovery and then my sister and I testified. The Asset. AG did not hear us describing in detail these negligent acts. This was the counsel for the USA . We agreed to settle only for the reasons that our constitutional rights would of been violated due to the fact that under The Federal Torts Reclamation Act when the U.S. is a defendant there is no right to a jury trial one judge from your district rules on the verdict. (benefit three)
As much as I have respect for the laws and even though I would never live anywhere else but the USA, it saddens me to think about how my families rights were violated. It saddens me to think that other families might have to or do experience these dreadful things. I wanted to share my experience because I want people to know that they need to stick it out, please don't give up on your loved ones that are in prison because you are all they got. The system makes it hard thinking that we will just go away. Speaking for myself, they are wrong because my father will always live in my heart forever.
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