A Decade After His Ill-Treatment as a Prison Inmate, Diabetic Man Wins Suit Over Leg Amputation

A decade after he says he was given poor medical care as an inmate at a prison, a diabetic man has won a $400K lawsuit over the amputation that later had to be performed on his leg.

Anthony Rodesky, who has type 1 diabetes, was incarcerated at the Tamms Correctional Center roughly 10 years ago when he started to experience blisters on his foot and leg.

For years, Rodesky, who is serving a 30-year term for murder, has been managing poor circulation in his feet using gym shoes from the prison commissary. However, one day a prison guard confiscated his shoes after allegedly finding a paper clip in one of them. In place of these shoes, Rodesky was given canvas ones that were supposedly four sizes too big and didn’t give Rodesky’s feet the support and compression they needed.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Shuttershudder

Within days, Rodesky says his right foot began to develop blisters. He got ointment and antibiotics from the medical director at Tamms Correctional Center, but the sores continued to get worse over the course of several months. His complaint reads that “his socks stuck to the discharge leaking from his open sores,” but he was only given bandaids to fix the problem.

Alan Mills, of the Uptown People’s Law Center, which represented Rodesky, says for most of the time Rodesky spent in prison, “his blood sugar was through the roof.” His body was unable to heal itself due to his uncontrolled diabetes, which was worsened by the fact that he didn’t always get his medication at the right time.

“He never really had it under control, and part of the reason is because [the Department of Corrections] never could get it together to coordinate the time that you get your insulin and the time they provide you with food.”


Rodesky filed an emergency grievance in the hopes of getting special diabetic shoes before it was too late, but he was denied. He continued to get more and worse infections and, after two surgeries, he spent the rest of 2012 in the prison infirmary. He claims the medical director ignored some of the post-surgery instructions, but he got better anyway.

After that, however, Rodesky was moved to the Pontiac Correctional Center. His cell there was on the third floor, and he had to go down to the first floor twice a day to get his insulin shots. All the climbing of stairs reopened his wounds and resulted in even worse infections than before.

Rodesky was later moved to a cell on the ground floor, but it was too late. His ulcers worsened, and the medical director refused to give him pain medication. Eventually, he was diagnosed with a bone infection and, later, gangrene.

Rodesky had his leg amputated below the knee in 2015 as a result of the worsening infections in his leg and foot.

Photo: Adobe Stock/ Ocskay Mark

Mills says this case is a sign of issues that have been occurring in the Illinois Department of Corrections for years and have gone mostly unnoticed and unchecked. The Department of Corrections is currently under a three-year-old consent decree for inadequate medical treatment for prisoners, and a federal monitor has repeatedly said that the decree is not being followed. There have also been a handful of other similar settlements that were supposed to lead to reform within the system but have not.

“The outcome [in Rodesky’s case] was particularly egregious but…unfortunately, the care is also typical,” Mills said. “People shouldn’t lose their legs because of a blister. And that’s what happened here. And it shows not only, I think, the poverty of medical care that’s being provided, but also it shows just how little the Department of Corrections does to deal with people who have a disability.”

A federal judge in Peoria awarded Rodesky $400,000 after a jury ruled that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of the inmate.


Mills said the ruling was “extraordinarily satisfying…quite the vindication of what he’s been through for really a decade.”

However, Rodesky did not win in his argument that the warden of the Pontiac Correctional Center showed “deliberate indifference to serious medical need” at that time. His victory is also bittersweet because of the obviously upsetting loss of his leg and the fact that this could all have been avoided with proper medical care years ago.

A spokesperson at the Department of Corrections declined to comment due to the pending litigation.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Skyward Kick Prod.

As of 2015, Illinois was one of 20 states that contracted with private medical care providers. Illinois’s provider, Wexford, has been a co-defendant with the Department of Corrections in hundreds of medical lawsuits filed by prisoners. They have over 100 settlements and jury awards in the last decade.

Illinois was also one of 15 states not using electronic healthcare records. It spent the eighth-lowest amount in the country on prisoner healthcare and had the second-lowest per-inmate healthcare staffing ratio.

Like the rest of the population, the population of incarcerated people is aging. That means there are more health problems present in prisons than ever before, and it’s important that correctional facilities make changes to improve healthcare for inmates.

Support Research

Fund Diabetes research and care at The Diabetes Site for free!