A Minnesota county will pay a $12.2 million settlement to a man who was jailed on suspicion of drunken driving but ended up losing both his hands and suffering a heart attack, a stroke and skin lesions all over his body, allegedly due to the inaction of officials in the county jail. Terrance Winborn spent about four months in hospitals, including two months on a ventilator, because Scott County jail officials failed during the 39 hours he was incarcerated to ensure he got the prompt treatment he needed, his lawyers said. It’s a case that highlights the vulnerability of prisoners who are dependent on authorities for medical care, reports the Associated Press.
The attorneys said the settlement will cover more than $2 million in medical bills Winborn has already incurred as well as millions he’ll need for ongoing care. The county’s insurance plan will cover the settlement. “That deliberate indifference allowed a bacterial infection to run rampant within his body, leading to a heart attack ... and a host of other devastating and permanent injuries,” said attorney Katie Bennett. Winborn’s attorneys played a video showing his difficulties in adapting to life without hands, including feeding himself. He said he eats two meals a day because three takes too much work. Winborn was arrested in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee on Aug. 27, 2020. His blood alcohol content measured 0.13% at the jail. He was unable to stand up that morning when a jail nurse came by for a COVID-19 check. She noted that his right hand was “extremely swollen,” and that he had trouble answering questions. By the time a corrections officer drove Winborn to a hospital on Aug. 28, his condition was worse. Eventually, doctors amputated his hand and part of his forearm after necrotizing fasciitis set in, a condition popularly known as flesh-eating bacteria. The rare condition, in which marauding bacteria run rampant through tissue, may result in amputations to save the patient’s life.