A federal judge has dismissed a prison inmate’s lawsuit against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services because it wouldn’t give him a single cell to accommodate his shy bladder syndrome.
Robert E. Hunt — who is serving a life sentence at the Nebraska State Penitentiary for killing Beverly Ramspott in Norfolk in 1984 — alleged prison staff violated his right to medical care by denying him a single cell.
In 2011, he sued Corrections Director Robert Houston, prison medical director Dr. Randy Kohl, Warden Dennis Bakewell and others.
“Together, these defendants have the responsibility for providing the plaintiff the necessary status to urinate in private 24 hours per day,” Hunt wrote in one motion.
He said his paruresis, or shy bladder syndrome, dated back to 1975.
In an order last week, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard G. Kopf said Hunt, who has been in a double cell since 2004, has requested a single cell based on a variety of reasons over the years.
He said Hunt has cited his cellmate’s snoring, religious reasons and his self-reported shy bladder syndrome.
“Thus, the court is skeptical that Hunt’s purported ‘shy bladder syndrome’ is anything more than an attempt to obtain a single cell because his other attempts to get a single cell have failed,” Kopf wrote.
He said Hunt claimed, without any evidence in support of it, that shy bladder syndrome causes him to lose sleep and become dehydrated, and the only treatment that would help is a single cell.
In September 2010, he requested a visit with a private urologist, but prison medical staff denied the elective visit.
In July 2011, Hunt saw a physician’s assistant at the penitentiary after complaining he wasn’t able to drink water because he was having trouble going to the bathroom in front of others.
The physician’s assistant examined him and found no signs of dehydration or any other serious medical condition.
In the end, Kopf found Hunt’s self-diagnosed shy bladder syndrome was not a serious medical condition, and said medical evidence in the case showed it was not a physiological condition that can be treated by prison medical staff.
Yet, he said, the prison did provide Hunt with medical and mental health treatment for his anxiety relating to urination, and he has had several physician and mental health visits since 2007.
Hunt is appealing the decision.