Former Senator Wayne James, Blind, Sues Federal Bureau of Prisons for $15 Million Dollars

Former USVI Senator and Fashion Designer Wayne James, Blind, Files $15 Million Dollar Negligence Suit Against Federal Bureau of Prisons

Former USVI Senator and Fashion Designer Wayne James in a 2020 photo, just days after his release from FPC, Pensacola, FL

St. Croix-born fashion designer and former senator Wayne A.G. James is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for $15 million dollars, according to a Complaint filed in District Court of the Northern District of Florida (Pensacola) on Friday, September 16, 2022.  The case is being brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674. Captioned “Wayne A.G. James v. United States Government,” the civil action (Case #: 3:22-cv-18025-TKW-HTC) alleges that the medical staff at Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola, FL (FPC, Pensacola, FL) was “deliberately indifferent” to James’ pre-existing glaucoma condition during his March 2019 – June 2020 period of incarceration at FPC, Pensacola, resulting in his “irreversible,” “irreparable” loss of vision.  (The August 2018 trial that led to James’ conviction and 30-month incarceration is presently under review by the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands for violations of James’ 5th and 6th Amendment Rights, and the Court has preliminarily determined that James’ Petition to Vacate Conviction “is not frivolous” and therefore worthy of judicial review.)

“I went into prison not even needing drug store readers,” James said.  “But by the time I was released on June 1, 2020, my vision had so deteriorated that I had been relieved of my bathroom-cleaning work detail and transferred to special housing for infirm inmates,” James added. 

According to the Complaint, James notified the medical staff at FPC Pensacola of his pre-existing glaucoma condition, but he was repeatedly denied care until he eventually broke ranks and wrote directly to the prison’s warden seeking intervention.

The Complaint further alleges that James’ prison-prescribed glaucoma medications were never monitored to determine their efficacy, and he was never given the glaucoma surgeries that were urgently recommended by the optometrist and ophthalmologist he saw while on his two warden-authorized furloughs. 

The Complaint also alleges that James has no underlying health conditions that could have contributed or caused his blindness; and that since his release in 2020, he has been in the care of his private ophthalmologists and optometrists, who have prescribed pharmaceutically available medication that has effectively arrested any additional loss of vision and could have prevented his blindness during his period of incarceration.

“I am a fashion designer, a filmmaker, a Georgetown University law school graduate, a critically acclaimed author, a collector of art and antiques, a scholar of Danish West Indies and Virgin Islands history and culture, a genealogy researcher, a creator of luxury products, etc.,” James said.  “All of these vocations and avocations require the use of my eyes. Being blind has immeasurably altered my quality of life and my ability to contribute to humanity,” James said.

James is being represented by Georgia attorney Lloyd J. Matthews, and the matter is assigned to Federal Judge T. Kent Wetherell II, and referred to Magistrate Judge Hope T. Cannon.  A jury trial is demanded.