Plaintiffs Cite “Deliberate Indifference” In Death Of Inmate
A county jail is being sued after taking on an inmate who was high on amphetamines and then not responding to an overdose situation, allowing the man to die while in custody. The lawsuit names the county as well as six employees of the jail. An attorney representing the family said the man’s son was born only four days after his death.
According to the lawsuit, the decedent was wanted on a parole violation related to a previous robbery and assault. During his arrest for the parole violation, the defendant ate a bag of meth. He was taken to the hospital, where he was discharged shortly after. At that point, the drugs had not passed through his system.
At some point, the defendant began to panic, hitting the buzzer and yelling for help. Officers reported that the man began speaking to his mother, who wasn’t there. Officers noted that he was showing signs of drug detox and moved him to a padded room for his own safety. He died in that room, according to a report issued by corrections officers. However, the room had video monitoring, so it remains unclear why no one noticed he was unresponsive until it was too late.
Analyzing the complaint
Okay, while a guy who ingests a bag of drugs to beat a possession charge is responsible for the material conditions that put him in the hospital, once he is taken into custody, he has no choice left in the matter. So, all of the responsibility for his wellbeing falls on the prison, and that is an obligation that the state knows and knows well. If a prisoner is showing signs of medical distress, the jail is responsible for getting that prisoner to a hospital. If they don’t, and he can’t get himself to the hospital, then they kill him.
On the other hand, cases like this don’t settle for much because jurors will place some or even most of the blame on the plaintiff who swallowed a lethal dose of meth to avoid possession charges. However, once he is in custody, the jail has a responsibility to meet the prisoner’s needs.
The prison will contend they didn’t know about the meth and didn’t know why the plaintiff was acting out. The plaintiffs will enter evidence that the guards had ample time to respond to the plaintiff’s condition and deliberately ignored him.
Cases like these tend to settle. Plaintiff’s attorneys don’t like to take the cases in front of juries. Civil defense attorneys don’t like explaining to the public that jails aren’t responsible for the medical needs of the arrested. Avoiding a situation that makes everyone look bad, cases like these settle in the $200,000 range.
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