Ignored by jail staff, woman loses arm after rough arrest

Robby Soave Reporter
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A woman has filed suit against the police department that injured her arm during her arrest and then ignored her increasingly poor medical state — eventually costing her an arm.

The woman — 35-year-old Amy Needham of Ross Township, Penn. — was arrested in April for skipping a preliminary hearing related to a disorderly conduct charge against her. Needham claimed that police surprised her while she was in the bathroom, tasered her and applied arms bars and wrist locks, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Police also used handcuffs that were “too tight,” according to Needham’s official complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that the rough treatment of her arms and wrists led her to develop “compartment syndrome,” a muscle condition that results in permanent nerve and tissue damage if untreated. Muscles affected by compartment syndrome wither and die unless surgery is administered, according to Raw Story.

Needham spent one week in Allegheny County Jail, during which she asked to see a doctor 16 times. Belatedly, she was taken to a hospital, where doctors amputated her arm at the elbow.

Needham had a job in a restaurant, but can no longer work until she is fitted for a prosthetic arm. Her attorney said that the ordeal has left her with “psychological problems.”

“She feels that her life is ruined,” said Marvin Leibowitz, who is representing Needham in her recently filed lawsuit against Allegheny County, in a statement. “You’re 35 years old and you lose your arm.”

Needham had a minor criminal record. Earlier this year, she plead guilty to resisting arrest, simple assault and disorderly conduct.

The lawsuit alleges cruel and unusual punishment, excessive force, battery and negligence. Needham is seeking $75,000 in damages.

The county declined to comment on the matter, since litigation is pending.

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