Convicted murderer "Low Tax" Looper sues prison medical manager over health care

Convicted murderer Byron (Low Tax) Looper has filed a lawsuit from prison against Correctional Medical Services (CMS) and a host of personnel within the Tennessee Department of Corrections, seeking damages in the amount of $47 million.

Found guilty of shooting and killing State Senator Tommy Burks on his farm in Monterey, Tenn., in October 1998, Looper is currently serving a life sentence in Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex in Petros, Tennessee.

At the time of the slaying, Looper was Burks' opponent in the race for the District 15 seat in the state Senate.

Arguing a common theme of prisoner lawsuits, Looper contends that his conditions of confinement have been unconstitutional. His complaints include being cut off from his heart medication, being exposed to hepatitis and contagious diseases, and not being treated for personal medical problems ranging from chest pain to gum pain as a result of not having his teeth cleaned in three years.

In his affidavit, Looper writes that he became so dizzy on one occasion that he fell down a flight of steps and broke his $400 Ralph Lauren Polo glasses.

Looper alleges that CMS allows bad medical practices to go on in the prisonbecause as a for-profit company, it's more profitable not to treat the prisoners.

St. Louis-based CMS is the largest correctional health care firm in the country, providing health care to prisons in 31 states. Last June, CMS secured a $23 million contract to provide medical services to inmates of the Tennessee Department of Correction.

The result of not being treated for his maladies, Looper writes, "is a loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life."

One remedy he suggests is that the state supply him with a computer and CD Rom so he can pursue his legal studies.

Looper also complains of impurities in the prison water and the alleged practice of refusing to give inmates the care they need after they have been severely beaten.

He wants $25 million from CMS and settlements of between $5 and $10 million from other defendants, including the prison warden, medical director, dentist and guards.

The current suit comes on the heels of another filed by Looper against a television station.

According to the Attorney General's office, Looper claims that the station misrepresented their intentions in interviewing him and then broadcast a story that painted him in a bad light. The list of defendants in that case includes more than 50 people from whom Looper is seeking $50,000 each in damages.

Looper is representing himself in both cases. His murder conviction is still on appeal.

Looper, 36, legally changed his name to Low Tax during a previous run for elected office.

At the time of the murder, Looper was the property assessor for Putnam County, Tenn. A man described as desperate to hold high political office, Looper even refers to himself in his recently filed affidavit as "the only Republican elected to a partisan courthouse office in the history of Putnam County.