Inmate claims forced TB testing is unconstitutional

Michelle Massey Sep. 7, 2010, 6:33am

After being arrested for driving while intoxicated and placed in a St. Charles jail cell, Ronnie Strange claims he was involuntarily injected with a foreign and dangerous substance in direct violation of his civil rights, Louisiana and federal law.

Seeking more than $1 million in damages, Strange filed suit in federal court in New Orleans against St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne, unidentified St. Charles Parish Sheriff's deputies and unidentified St. Charles Parish Sheriff's medical personnel.

The alleged incident occurred on Aug. 24, 2009 after Strange was booked on a first offense driving while intoxicated charge. Strange claims he was told he would have a tuberculosis skin test and that the test was not voluntary.

Strange claims he was forced to sign a form and then he was involuntarily injected. He also claims that just prior to his test, the person sitting next to him was tested and Strange was sprayed with his bodily fluid.

The plaintiff states that since the incident occurred, he tests positive for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis C.

The defendants are accused of violating Strange's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, failing to properly supervise and train the defendants in the proper methods and standards of testing incarcerated people for tuberculosis, and for failing to maintain a proper system for complying with statutory requirements.

The plaintiff is seeking more than $100,000 for damages for mental anguish, pain, suffering and humiliation, medical expenses, loss of income, loss of earning capacity and $1 million in punitive damages, plus attorney fees.

Strange is represented by Jarrett P. Ambeau of the Ambeau Law Firm in Gonzales. Jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02829

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