- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An inmate who sued because he was released early from a Tennessee jail has lost an appeal.

This week the Tennessee Court of Appeals said that former inmates don’t have grounds to sue because they were released early from incarceration.

The decision stems from a 2011 lawsuit filed by a former inmate who sued Bradley County saying he was improperly released early from jail because the government didn’t want to pay for his medical expenses. In the suit, former inmate Stanley Walker alleged that he contracted a staph infection while in jail, and he wanted Bradley County to pay for his medical expenses and other damages.

The appeals court also upheld a Bradley County judge’s decision to dismiss Walker’s lawsuit, which also claimed negligence on behalf of the jailers.

“We are going to continue to appeal,” John Wolfe, a Chattanooga attorney who represents Walker, said after Tuesday’s decision was handed down. “The way I look at it, and the way Mr. Walker looks at it, is that he was pushed out of jail so that Bradley County could avoid having to pay for his medical treatment.” The attorney said Walker has been bill for tens of thousands of dollars for hospitalization and treatment as a result of the staph infection that he contracted.

Walker was released early from a 30-day sentence for probation violation for driving on a suspended license. Even though a judge had sentenced him to serve 30 days, a jailer released Walker early without getting a judge’s permission.

Walker had argued that jailers simply couldn’t go over a judge’s head and reduce the sentence.

“Our decision on this issue does not mean non-judicial officials may make their own decisions regarding sentence length,” Judge D. Michael Swiney wrote in the opinion.

The appeals court decision found that Walker failed to show the staph infection was the result of negligence on the part of jailers and he wasn’t prevented from getting treatment after leaving the jail.

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