KUNA — A man incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Center last week sued the Idaho Department of Correction’s registered medical provider Corizon Health, a privately held prison health care contractor, alleging staff failed to treat an infection that resulted in the loss of his leg.
Antonio Meza-Sayas, 57, filed court documents alleging medical staff refused his requests to get a second opinion on an infection in his foot beginning in late October 2019, then refused to allow him to go to the hospital to have the infection looked at.
Three doctors and two nurses are listed as defendants alongside Corizon Health, and the lawsuit has been filed conditionally pending review by a federal judge.
Meza-Sayas, whose name in court records from nearly two decades ago is listed as “Sayas Meza,” is serving a life sentence on a first-degree murder conviction. He pleaded guilty to the charge as part of an agreement with prosecutors in February 1997.
Prosecutors alleged that Meza-Sayas gunned down Aniceto Betancourt, 64, on Sept. 8, 1996, following an argument between the men at Cheto’s Bar. According to police, witnesses said Meza-Sayas left the bar and returned with a gun.
Meza-Sayas is eligible for parole in 2026, according to the Idaho Department of Correction.
In the complaint filed Feb. 18, he alleged violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Meza-Sayas wrote of the infection, “Corizon treated this issue as a normal, routine issue and did not properly assess the situation, which resulted in the loss of my leg.”
The same issue is happening in his other leg, the prisoner wrote, alleging that medical staff is not doing anything about it and that nurses didn’t respond to a number of health services requests leading up to the amputation of his leg.
Corizon did not respond to a request for comment, and the Idaho Department of Correction stated it does not comment on pending litigation.
Meza-Sayas has previously alleged mistreatment in the prison system. Courts previously denied a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, a request to come before the court to determine if his imprisonment was lawful. In the petition, Meza-Sayas said he was denied a copy of his case file and that he submitted an involuntary guilty plea. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied subsequent appeals and in 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Meza-Sayas’ petition for a writ of certiorari, which is an order for an appellate court to review the case, records show.
Meza-Sayas’ most recent complaint, however, is not the first time allegations have surfaced regarding violations at state prisons that led to amputations.
Corizon has faced lawsuits and fines in a variety of states. The Idaho Press reported in 2018 that more than 100 inmates sued the Idaho Department of Correction and Corizon, alleging that staff left them untreated for hepatitis C, a viral disease that degrades the liver’s ability to purify blood, and that their symptoms worsened.
In another lawsuit filed that year, 65-year-old inmate Gary Merchant alleged that his leg was amputated in 2016 after prison and health officials ignored a serious infection, and that he wasn’t taken to the hospital until he swallowed a razor blade to get attention.
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan in June 2018 issued a $1.4 million fine to the Arizona Department of Corrections, which at the time contracted Corizon Health to provide medical care, over inadequate responses to patients’ medical requests and health care grievances.
In Colorado, the family of an inmate who died from symptoms of heroin withdrawal won a $3.7 million settlement after medical staff at the Adams County Jail, where Corizon was the health care provider, failed to administer an IV.
Corizon Health provides medical services at more than 220 facilities in 17 states, serving over 180,000 patients, according to the company’s website.