A Colorado man is suing the Arapahoe County jail and a private healthcare company it contracts with after a short stint in jail cost him all five toes on his right foot.
James Neisler was arrested on misdemeanor charges in late 2012 related to domestic abuse and drunk driving.
A diabetic, he was ordered by a nurse practitioner at the jail not to stand for more than two hours after his legs began swelling.
But according to his lawsuit, first reported by the Denver Post, his work release supervisor ordered him to work four-hour shifts lugging sacks of flour and other kitchen supplies while wearing ill-fitting steel-toed shoes.
He began to get blisters that eventually turned to gangrene.
Neisler said he complained to jail authorities when the swelling in his right toes got so bad that they bled, but his pleas for medical care were ignored.
“My right big toe is bleeding, oozing and twice the size of my left big toe,” he wrote in a letter to jail authorities weeks after the blisters broke. Two days later, he wrote, “my toe is literally rotting now and smells awful.”
“I’m begging to be taken to a hospital or a wound care clinic for it to be looked at,” he wrote. “Please take me.”
Neisler told the Post he began hiding his bloody socks under his mattress as evidence of how bad his condition was. It wasn’t until the toes went “past gangrene, all the way to bone infection” before the nurse inspected his foot and found the tissue had gone necrotic.
By the end of his ordeal, all five of his right toes had to be amputated.
Neisler told the Post his troubles began when his dog died. While burying the pet, he argued with his wife, who filed domestic abuse charges. Neisler was later arrested for drunk driving, when he was found sleeping in his car.
A former stockbroker, the 47-year-old told the Post he also lost his wife and kids, along with his dog, his freedom and half of his right foot.
“I could write 25 country songs about what happened,” he told the paper. “I go into jail with 10 toes and I come out with five.”
Neisler’s lawsuit doesn’t specify the amount of damages he’s seeking. Depositions in the case begin this week.
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