Skip to main content

Suit Claims Multnomah County Jail Failed To Treat Broken Nose

In a lawsuit, a former prisoner alleges he didn’t get surgery to treat a broken nose for months despite repeated requests for care.
August 16, 2022

A former Multnomah County jail prisoner filed a lawsuit claiming staff at the jail for months failed to properly treat his broken nose. 

Daniel Clark, the former prisoner, filed the lawsuit against the county Aug. 4, which seeks up to $500,000 in damages. The lawsuit alleges Clark repeatedly asked for medical attention for breathing problems after another prisoner assaulted him and broke his nose on Aug. 14, 2020. A nurse gave him a nose clamp, but he was unable to use it, the lawsuit says.

Clark, 45, is incarcerated at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, where he is serving time for a robbery conviction with an expected release in 2025, according to state records.

A spokesperson for Multnomah County declined to comment on the lawsuit. The county hasn’t yet responded to the allegations in court.

Two days after his injury, Clark told a registered nurse he could only breathe out of his mouth — not his nose — and felt like he was going to have a “panic attack” because he could not breath, the lawsuit says. The nurse prescribed nasal spray.

An x-ray four days after the injury found a nasal fracture and a physician working in the jail recommended a follow-up visit, the lawsuit says. The next day, Clark visited the same doctor and reported nasal bleeding and continued difficulty breathing, but the doctor didn’t refer him to an ear, nose and throat specialist, the lawsuit says.

On Aug. 23, 2020 — a week after the initial injury — a nurse saw that he was still bleeding and it wouldn’t stop. Clark was sent to the emergency room at Oregon Health & Science University, where doctors stopped the bleeding and sent him back to jail, the lawsuit says. 

On Sept. 7, 2020, Clark reported to jail staff dizziness, headaches and continued difficulty breathing out of one of his nostrils, the lawsuit said. In a follow-up visit on Sept. 16, 2020, a physician assistant declined to refer him to a specialist and wrote it may be due to “residual swelling,” the lawsuit said.

When symptoms persisted, Clark again complained about the problem in an Oct. 1, 2020 visit with a nurse, and they discussed seeing an outside provider, the lawsuit says. But that visit didn’t happen until April 9, 2021, nearly eight months after the initial injury, the suit said. In that visit, a physician at Emanuel Hospital found a nasal obstruction from the injury and recommended surgery.

“Unfortunately the surgery was unable to solve the nasal obstruction because of the inordinately and neglectful delay,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges the medical personnel at the jail failed to follow the standard of care that health care providers would use in the community.

The delay in care, the lawsuit says, caused a “protracted and permanent injury to his nose” that “led to increased discomfort and will cause him a lifetime of impaired breathing.”

The plaintiff is represented by Ethan Levi of Levi Merrithew Horst PC in Portland.

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or via Twitter @BenBotkin1.