Lawsuit over medical care in jail moved to federal court

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A lawsuit filed by a man who claimed that he lost sight in one eye due to poor medical care in the Westmoreland County Prison was transferred to federal court Friday.

Samuel P. Sethman, 33, of Ruffsdale, sued Westmoreland County, its prison health contractor NaphCare Inc. and six employees of the county and firm in Common Pleas Court.

According to the complaint, Mr. Sethman was jailed in October 2010 for a parole violation stemming from a 2005 drunken driving conviction. He had what appeared to be an eye infection and repeatedly requested treatment and a visit with a doctor from Oct. 28 through Nov. 30, 2010, according to the suit. He received medication, and was eventually diagnosed with iritis, but too late, he claims.

The lawsuit said that lack of treatment constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

An attorney for NaphCare moved the case to federal court, saying it raises questions of constitutional law.

Westmoreland County Solicitor Mark Gesalman said the county "had a good experience with NaphCare," which handled jail medical care until May, when a bidding process resulted in the award of the contract to Wexford Health Sources.

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