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Sama v. Hannigan

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
669 F.3d 585 (2012)


Facts

Carrie Sama (plaintiff), a state prison inmate under the control of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), was transported to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) for medical treatment related to cervical cancer. UTMB had contracted with the TDCJ to provide medical care to state prison inmates. While at the UTMB, Sama was treated by Dr. Edward Hannigan (defendant) and other physicians, including Dr. Michelle Benoit (defendant) (collectively the physicians). The physicians agreed that Sama was in need of a radical hysterectomy surgical procedure. Sama told the physicians that she wanted them to save her left ovary, if possible. Her right ovary had been removed during a previous surgical procedure in an effort to treat the cancer. Immediately prior to the operation, the physicians informed Sama that the likelihood of saving her left ovary was extremely low, but that the decision would be made during surgery. During the operation, the physicians concluded that Sama’s left ovary was “grossly abnormal” and needed to be removed. Subsequently, Sama filed suit in federal district court against the physicians and other state officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating her Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights in removing her left ovary without consent. The physicians moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. The district court granted the physicians’ motion. Sama appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Owen, J.)

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