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November 23, 2014

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Inmate with genital wounds sues state over medical treatment

Ference Farkas

Ference Farkas

For nearly a year, pitted wounds on inmate Ference Farkas' genitals have festered untreated as unsympathetic medical staff ignored them, a federal lawsuit filed against the Nevada Department of Corrections alleges.

Farkas, 53, was reportedly working in the kitchen of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center on May 11, 2013, when he accidentally spilled oven cleaner on the front of his pants. The caustic substance seeped through the fabric and dissolved patches of skin on his groin, causing it to peel and gouge away, according to a complaint filed last month in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

Doctors told Farkas in mid-2013 the injuries would require reconstructive surgery.

Yet a year since the accident, the inmate has been treated with little more than gauze and ointments, according to the suit. At one point a nurse told him to "wrap his penis tight to stop the bleeding," the suit alleges.

"Talk about deliberate indifference," said Farkas' attorney, Cal Potter, who specializes in criminal defense and civil rights cases. "This is almost something out of a horror movie."

State prison officials declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Medical staff should have been especially sympathetic "given the profound and unmistakable smell of putrefying flesh" emitted from the wounds, the suit says.

Guards openly teased Farkas, and medical staff shared details about his condition with other inmates, violating federal privacy laws, the suit said.

Farkas, who has been serving a sentence of 20 to 50 years since pleading guilty to second-degree murder in 2008, said doctors have retaliated against him for filing 25 grievances against medical staff in August by ignoring subsequent pleas for treatment.

On Nov. 15, a group of doctors knowingly walked away from the inmate as blood ran down his legs, according to the complaint. A nurse and a corrections officer stayed with him and treated him through the night.

Farkas has since been transferred to High Desert State Prison. He seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

"He's in very, very bad shape," Potter said.

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