When one is confined to jail, they have many things taken from them. For Peter Solomon, dignity was not one of those things. The Nassau County, New York inmate is a Vietnam veteran who says he has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. Mr. Solomon was jailed in the Nassau County Correction Center near New York City pending trial on charges he had menaced his wife. After being confined Mr. Solomon was transferred to the medical observation unit to assess his mental condition.
Mr. Solomon claims that at night a rat “or similar rodent” emerged from a hole in his mattress and bit him on the penis and hand, drawing blood. County officials noted the wound did not require stitching, and claimed his injuries were merely psychological. Mr. Solomon was later treated to a round of rabies injections.
The novel legal issue raised by Mr. Solomon is whether an inmate who has been bitten by a rat in the penis may sue the county for his injuries. The county officials claimed they were shielded from lawsuit because they had acted in an official capacity, they were unaware of a substantial risk, and they disputed that there was a rodent problem in the jail.
Mr. Solomon claims the jailers knew the prison was infested with rats, and failed to protect Mr. Solomon from these frisky critters. He further claims that they failed to take his injury seriously and provide prompt and proper care. The court ruled on Thursday that Mr. Solomon has raised enough issues for a federal civil rights lawsuit to proceed.
The chief issues in dispute are whether the rowdy rodent was a rat or a mouse, whether Mr. Solomon was bitten or scratched, and the nature and extent of his injuries. Mr. Solomon claims he suffered emotional distress from the experience and now has “complete sexual dysfunction.” Whether his injuries were physical or psychological, it’s good to see that Mr. Solomon has not let his time in jail take away his dignity.