Lawsuit: Paralyzed man needed leg amputated, may die after detention facility ignored complaints

AURORA, Colo. — A detainee had to have his leg amputated and may soon die after detention facility staff ignored the man’s medical complaints and requests for a hospital visit, according to a new lawsuit.

Attorneys David Lane and Liana Orshan of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP filed a lawsuit against the United States of America Tuesday, alleging that Ronnie Keyes, a federal detainee at the Aurora Detention Facility (ADF) awaiting pre-trial, had an infection that was ignored and ultimately led to a necessary amputation.

That infection is killing Keyes, the lawsuit reads.

Keyes was charged with a federal crime in June 2016 and arrived at ADF relatively healthy, though he was paralyzed and restricted to a wheelchair after a 2006 car crash. Upon arrival to the facility, Keyes informed several employees of his medications and requirements to stay healthy, the lawsuit reads.

Because of his limited mobility, he is prone to developing pressure ulcers, so he sleeps on a special support surface and repeatedly asked for an air mattress from The GEO Group, Inc, which operates and manages ADF.

An air mattress was never provided, according to the lawsuit.

The sores that Keyes had when he arrived at the facility grew worse and he developed new ones, the lawsuit reads. He complained several times and his grievances were kept on file. In August, he noted that his ulcers were bleeding and smelled, and that a wound on his ankle had become completely black.

ADF has one doctor for its 600 detainees and the lawsuit claimed that Keyes’ complaints were ignored, with the United States Marshals Service, “just taking the facility’s doctor’s word that all of Mr. Keyes’s complaints were lies and a ploy to get out of detention.”

After running a high fever, ADF staff took Keyes to the hospital Sept. 12, 2016. He told doctors about his ankle wound, and was diagnosed with sepsis, an infection of the blood, and osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone in his ankle and foot.

On Sept. 20, 2017, Keyes had his leg amputated below the knee to save his life and prevent the infection from spreading further, the lawsuit reads. Since his discharge, he’s seen multiple doctors and had other surgeries and amputations.

Doctors said there “likely is nothing more that they can do for him,” according to the lawsuit, and “that he likely does not have much longer to live.”

The attorneys filed the lawsuit against the United States of America and claimed medical negligence.

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