Ex-inmate wins $3M in suit after Ohio failed to file answer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former inmate has won $3 million in a lawsuit against an Ohio prison after the state failed to file an answer for several years.

John Henricks, 59, of Fulton County, had sued now-retired Dr. Ida Gonzalez and the Pickaway Correctional Institution, where she worked in June 2008, alleging Gonzalez failed to give him the proper pain medication after an emergency appendectomy.

A federal magistrate denied the state attorney general office’s request to dismiss the case in 2009. The state then had 30 days to file the answer rebutting the allegations, but didn’t until July 2013.

A Columbus judge recently ruled that Henricks’ allegations were sufficient to find that Gonzalez was liable. A jury awarded Henricks $1 million in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2cwTjmb ) reported.

Because the state didn’t file in a timely manner, Henricks’ allegations were deemed to be true, said attorney Dan Mordarski, who represented Henricks along with attorney John Camillus starting in 2011.

It’s unknown why the state didn’t file an answer by the deadline.

“I don’t think they were taking it very seriously,” Camillus said.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said the DRC is reviewing the decision.

According to the suit, Gonzalez refused to give Henricks a pain medication after an Ohio State University physician prescribed it. Henricks said he suffered extreme pain until his release from prison in 2009. Mordarski said his client is permanently disabled.

Gonzalez, 67, testified she was worried the painkiller could harm Henricks’ heart.