Ex-inmate claims permanent injuries suffered from county jail

Elbert Anderson filed the lawsuit in district court this month

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
The San Juan County Adult Detention Center in Farmington is pictured in April 2015.
  • Elbert Anderson accuses jail employees of depriving him of proper medical care and denying him his medication.
  • Lawsuits filed against the county jail and hospital claim inmates have died or suffered injuries due to substandard or denied medical care.
  • Anderson claims he has permanent injuries due to poor treatment at the county jail.


FARMINGTON – A San Juan County man claims he suffered permanent injuries after being deprived of medical care for several months while detained at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

Elbert Anderson filed the lawsuit on May 16 against several defendants, including the county jail, the San Juan County Commission and the San Juan Regional Medical Center, according to court records.

He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from defendants and attorney's fees and costs, according to court documents.

Anderson accuses the defendants, including unknown jail employees, of not providing proper medical care, ignoring his pleas that he was in pain, placing shackles on his injured ankles, and confiscating and forbidding him from taking his prescribed medication, including antibiotics.

A San Juan Regional Medical Center spokeswoman declined comment, stating the hospital doesn't discuss the specifics of any pending litigation.

Messages left for Tom Havel, administrator at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, and one of Anderson's Albuquerque-based attorneys, Jason Lewis, were not returned.

Jack Fortner, chairman of the San Juan County Commission, said he did not know the details of the lawsuit. He added the jail works to provide good and reasonable health care the inmates deserve.

"We try and keep people safe there as well as we can," Fortner said. 

MORE:Ex-inmate claims injuries, lack of medical care

Anderson was incarcerated at the county jail from March to December 2015.

A warrant was issued after he failed to check in with his parole officer shortly after having surgery, according to court documents.

Anderson was on probation after being convicted of an attempted child abuse felony charge and driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs misdemeanor count, according to court records.

When Anderson turned himself in, he arrived at the jail in a wheelchair with casts on his legs and wrists, along with a wire on his jaw.

He was prescribed multiple medications, including mild painkillers and antibiotics, according to court documents.

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Anderson alleges jail employees confiscated his medications, and deprived him of follow-up care and attention following the surgery.

He also claims that medical employees at the jail ignored statements about his pain and numbness from his injuries. 

As Anderson served his sentence, the condition of his left ankle began to deteriorate. 

He was in constant pain and witnessed green liquid "oozing" from the surgical site under his cast, according to court records.

Anderson visited his orthopedic surgeon twice during his sentence — in May and October 2015. 

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During the October visit, the surgeon examined Anderson's ankle and stated, "This does not look good Mr. Anderson," according to court documents. 

In May 2015, he was transferred to the Central New Mexico Corrections Facility in Los Lunas for an unknown period.

Anderson was allowed to take his antibiotics and painkillers there and was permitted to keep his antibiotics in his cell. He was later transferred back to the county jail.

By the time he was released in December 2015, Anderson had suffered permanent damage to this left ankle, according to court documents, which also state he can only walk for a few minutes a day. The physical disability is hampering his efforts to get a job, the lawsuit states.

There have been other lawsuits filed against the adult detention center and the hospital, the jail's current health care provider, claiming inmates have died or suffered injuries from substandard medical care or were denied care.

The County Commission in March approved a bid from Tennessee-based Correct Care Solutions to provide inmate medical care at San Juan County detention facilities. That contract is scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.