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RULING EXPECTED TO SPUR INMATE MALPRACTICE SUITS

A defense attorney anticipates a number of lawsuits will follow a 3rd District judge's ruling that medical malpractice immunity granted to prison officers is unconstitutional.

The ruling clears the way for inmates to sue the state over malpractice claims, according to attorney Ross Anderson. It could attract malpractice complaints dating back two years.Anderson represents a former inmate, Roger Bott, who suffered kidney failure and eyesight impairment while in prison custody. Bott has sued prison nurse practitioner Dean Laney, claiming Laney negligently failed to diagnose Bott's illness or provide proper treatment or notification to a physician.

The state asked Judge Kenneth Rigtrup to dismiss the case, but Rigtrup refused, declaring a state immunity clause as unconstitutional. Anderson said he will now prepare Bott's case for trial.

The immunity clause meant Bott's suit had to be filed on the basis of a civil rights violation. But a court ruling that strips the prison of immunity could pave the way for a number of additional suits, Anderson said.