Ex-prisoner sues Carter over jail

John Thompson • Sep 27, 2012 at 9:47 PM

GREENEVILLE — Jonathan Calhoun, a former prisoner of the Carter County Jail, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Monday, claiming that his civil rights were violated when he was subjected to acts of violence from his fellow prisoners and that the sheriff’s department carelessly and inadequately monitored the prisoners to keep such acts of violence from occurring. Calhoun also claims a shoulder injury he suffered in the attack was ignored by the jail medical staff, leading to a permanent injury that requires surgery.

Calhoun is seeking unspecified compensatory damages and unspecified general relief. His attorneys are Bob McD. Green of Johnson City and Kenneth Wright of Kingsport. The suit names Carter County, Sheriff Chris Mathes and an unidentified jail nurse.

In the suit, Calhoun said he was booked into the jail around Sept. 24, 2011, and was placed in one of the “pods,” a temporary facility to relieve the overcrowding in the old jail until the new jail was finished and occupied.

When mealtime came around, Calhoun was served a tray of food. He said another prisoner demanded Calhoun give him the food. When he refused, he said the other prisoner attacked him and severely injured his left shoulder.

When he complained of his injury to the unnamed jail nurse, Calhoun said she accused him of “faking it,” and refused to run X-rays or other diagnostic tests. Although members of Calhoun’s family contacted the jail requesting medical attention for him, he said their calls were ignored. His said his situation was finally improved when his grandmother arranged for his bail.

Calhoun went to a doctor when he got out of jail, but he said the doctor found the delay in treating the injury resulted in further damage to the shoulder, requiring surgery. The surgery was performed on Nov. 21-22. He said he has been left with significant impairment which will require more surgery and cost. Even so, he said, he will have a permanent disability.

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