A Wilburton man says he suffered a medication-induced erection lasting more than 91 hours while locked in the Pittsburg County jail, while jail staff mocked his condition and refused to get him medical treatment, according to a recently-filed lawsuit.
The man, Dustin John Lance, 32, said he suffered “unbearable pain” and permanent injury to his penis because of the four-day long erection while in the jail between Dec. 15, 2016, and Dec. 19, 2016, according to the lawsuit.
The suit names Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris, the Pittsburg County Board of County Commissioners, three deputies and a nurse, as defendants. The suit, which was originally filed Sept. 18 in Pittsburg County District Court, was transferred to federal court in the Eastern District of Oklahoma last week.
Morris, who took office as Sheriff in January after the incident allegedly occurred, said he only learned of it after the lawsuit was filed. Morris said that two of the jailers named in the lawsuit no longer work for the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Former Sheriff Joel Kerns, who was sheriff at the time, said he could not recall whether the incident was brought to his attention at the time and that he did not have further information about the case.
Messages left by The Frontier for Lance’s attorneys were not returned Tuesday.
According to the lawsuit, Lance was booked into the Pittsburg County jail in McAlester on Dec. 15, 2016, on complaints of burglary and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
After being booked into jail, Lance took a pill that had been given to him by another inmate at the jail, and the pill caused him to have an erection, the lawsuit states.
The next morning, on Dec. 16, Lance still had an erect penis, according to the suit, though it had become “unbearably painful.”
Lance told the jail staff what was happening, but jail staff did not render medical treatment or provide access to care, the suit states.
For the next three days the erection remained, and Lance repeatedly requested that jail staff help him or to let him get medical treatment as he was suffering “intense and excruciating pain to his penis,”, the lawsuit alleges, but jail staff “repeatedly mocked Plaintiff for his condition over the period of days while denying him medical treatment,” which caused Lance to suffer “irreparable harm to his penis.”
The suit alleges that the defendants should have known that an erection lasting that long was cause for concern, the lawsuit states.
“Any person that watches television has almost certainly seen Viagra or Cialis advertisements which tell people to see a doctor for an erection lasting four or more hours,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff’s erection lasted at a minimum of 91 hours.”
Finally, in the late morning of Dec. 19, 2016, jail staff transported Lance to the McAlester Regional Medical Center, though at that point the lawsuit alleges Lance had already suffered permanent damage to his penis.
However, physicians at the hospital were unable to relieve or treat Lance’s penis, and told deputies that he needed immediate transfer to a Tulsa hospital to be seen by a urologist, the suit states.
Though a doctor at the McAlester hospital told deputies that the situation was urgent and that he had already arranged transportation to Tulsa for Lance, deputies took Lance back to the Pittsburg County Jail to begin the process of obtaining a recognizance bond for Lance, which would further delay his treatment, the suit alleges.
It is not unusual for jails to release individuals who require medical treatment on recognizance bonds prior to treatment, as it means that the jail does not have to pay for medical costs.
Court records show that Lance was released on his own recognizance later that day.
The charges against Lance were dismissed by the Pittsburg County District Attorney in February.
The suit seeks at least $5 million in damages.