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Family Wins $500,000 Settlement From Jail After Inmate Death


A family has won a $500,000 settlement from a county jail where their loved one lost her life. According to the woman’s cellmate, she had been attempting to flag guards concerning the woman’s deteriorating health condition for at least 45 minutes. Video surveillance shows the cellmate waving her towel outside of the bars to draw the guard’s attention. No one came until 45 minutes later when EMTs rushed into her cell. The woman was taken to the hospital where she later died. The family is now calling for a grand jury investigation into what happened that day.

According to the family, staffing problems within the facility as well as supervisory oversights contributed to the woman’s death. There were no guards on the floor when the woman first began showing signs of medical distress. Further, when questioned concerning whether or not deputies ensure that their wards are alive, a representative of the jail told the press that it would be “unrealistic” to do bed checks with so many people in one jail.

However, the guards are supposed to at least walk by the cells twice an hour, and since that never happened, the jail was held liable for the woman’s death.

Now what? 

The plaintiffs have $500,000 to help them grieve the loss of their loved one. In 2019, two years after the woman’s death, the City of Portsmouth, VA abruptly condemned the jail requiring the inmates to be moved to another facility. The jail was condemned on the basis of unsanitary conditions and issues with the fire suppression system. The sheriff, who runs the jail, sued to keep it open. The City responded by saying that it neither has the resources to fix the jail or build a new one. The complex, which was built in 1969, currently resides on the City’s waterfront. The same city is paying $6 million a year to a nearby county to secure beds for their prisoners.

Prison medical lawsuits 

There are two types of lawsuits that emerge from prisons when discussing medical issues. The first is similar to the situation described above. An inmate who has an acute medical issue dies in a jail cell while showing visible signs of distress. The jail is held responsible if they either violated one of their policies or ignored the visible signs of distress.

A second type of lawsuits deals with medical malpractice committed either by the hospital’s doctors or a medical company that provides medical services to the prison for a contract. In cases where medical services are provided directly by the state, the lawsuits are hindered by sovereign immunity. They can still move forward, but there are restrictions. In cases where the company is a private entity that has been awarded a government contract, sovereign immunity would not apply. In that case, the inmate or their family can file a lawsuit directly against the company without having to worry about issues related to sovereign immunity.

Talk to a Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence or malice of another party, you may be entitled to sue for damages. Call the Jacksonville personal injury lawyers at Gillette Law today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your injuries in greater detail.


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