Court says feds not liable for immigrant death

Court Watch Posted on

The Supreme Court says the family of a now-deceased immigrant who was denied medical care for cancer while in custody cannot sue federal medical officials for damages.

Salvadoran immigrant Francisco Castaneda was denied a biopsy for a painful penis lesion while in prison in California, despite outside specialists' recommendations. He was later diagnosed with penile cancer, had his penis amputated and died.

Castaneda's family sued the U.S. Public Health Service personnel who denied the biopsy. But the government says the law gives its medical personnel absolute immunity against lawsuits.

Federal courts have refused to throw out the lawsuit. But Justice Sonia Sotomayor says the government's position is correct. She wrote the opinion for a unanimous court.

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