Boil or bite, fed panel dismisses $50M inmate suit

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - February 6, 2014

A 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel refused to reverse a federal judge's decision dismissing Ronald Sever's lawsuit against the Somerset County Jail, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

Sever, 50, claimed he suffered fever and terrible pain from a spider bite while an inmate in April 2010. He was jailed in the southwestern Pennsylvania lockup for failing to register as a sex offender, before being transferred to Virginia on charges in that state.

U.S. Magistrate Keith Pesto recommended the case be thrown out last year, noting Sever was properly treated for a boil while in jail - but that even if it was a spider bite, it resolved quickly with minimal care.

Jail medical records confirmed that Sever received antibiotics and a bandage in early May 2010 and continued to be treated in the Virginia lockup with antibiotics and Motrin. The inflamed area healed shortly after he was moved to that state, the lower court determined.

"I doubt that anyone having familiarity with boils and spider bites would agree with Sever's claim that he was bitten by a spider," Pesto wrote last year. "But whether it was a bite or a boil, an injury that resolves quickly, with minimal care, and without residual effects is not under any definition of the term a serious medical need."

County solicitor Dan Rullo announced the appeals court decision, which was issued Jan. 23, at the county's prison board meeting Tuesday.

Sever filed the lawsuit on his own behalf and could not immediately be reached for comment at the Keen Mountain Correctional Center in Oakwood, Va., where he's serving a term that expires in 2018.

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