KINGSPORT - Sullivan County has paid an inmate awaiting trial on a murder charge $2,000 to settle a federal lawsuit regarding medical treatment he received at the Sullivan County Detention Center.
Teddy Lynn Peregoy, of Gray, filed a $12 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in August 2004. Peregoy claimed his throat cancer could have been detected early if not for the quality of the medical treatment he received while incarcerated in the Sullivan County Detention Center in October 2002.
Peregoy was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in March 2006 in the shooting death of his son, Teddy Lynn Peregoy Jr., in October 2005. Investigators say Peregoy shot his son twice in the chest following an argument over a vehicle the younger man failed to return.
Kingsport attorney Steve Rose, whose law office represented Sullivan County in this matter, said there were some logistical problems with Peregoy, one of the reasons leading to the settlement.
"I think (Peregoy) had a lot of health issues going on. I believe it was time to bring an end to the litigation," Rose said. "If (Peregoy) proceeded, there were some depositions, perhaps in the western end of the state. So a nominal amount was reached to avoid putting the county to the expense of going and taking any medical depositions."
Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street said the settlement boils down to what those in the legal profession call a "nuisance value."
"It's an amount of money to get rid of the case," Street said, adding that Peregoy's initial offer was for $10,000 to settle the case.
"When you get a chance to get rid of something, which is in the best interest to do because of money, I think it's the best thing to do," Street said. "It was a payment to get rid of the case and hopefully save the county some money."
According to Peregoy's lawsuit, upon incarceration in October 2002, the detention center's medical staff took away and discontinued his prescription for Prilosec - a medication used for acid reflux symptoms. Peregoy said the medical staff gave him another medication instead, which he claimed was not effective.
In response to this action, Peregoy said he filed a grievance with the sheriff's department to protest the prescription switch, and in retaliation the medical staff took away two of his breathing inhalers.
The lawsuit states Peregoy filed another grievance against the medical staff in which he received no response.
In January 2003, Peregoy claimed he suffered from a chronic and continual sore throat and hoarseness and that on several occasions lost his voice.
On a daily basis for months, Peregoy said he sought the medical staff at the detention center for treatment of his sore throat, and it was not until April 2003 that a doctor agreed to see him.
The lawsuit states that the doctor prescribed only lozenges for Peregoy. A few months later, after the sore throat continued, a second doctor again prescribed lozenges and some antibiotics, the lawsuit states.
On July 17 of that year, Peregoy was transferred to Hay House, a halfway house in Kingsport, to complete the remainder of his sentence. Upon arrival, he went to the emergency room at Holston Valley Medical Center for his sore throat.
The lawsuit states that a biopsy conducted Aug. 27, 2003, confirmed Peregoy had laryngeal cancer.
"Due to the deliberate indifference of the defendants, Peregoy's cancer went both undetected and untreated," the lawsuit states. "Peregoy's cancer, due to the unnecessary lapse of six or seven months, had reached an advanced stage and resulted in the loss of his vocal cords and larynx."
Peregoy claims the medical staff could have appropriately diagnosed the seriousness of his sore throat, which would have led to the early detection and treatment of the cancer.
Street said the county denies Peregoy's claims.
"Our records don't support the fact he was lying in jail complaining and we were just blowing him off," Street said.