This Tuesday, the mother of a 26-year-old man who died while in a Lexington, Kentucky jail has sued a number of jail employees, accusing them of causing his wrongful death. Janet Davis claims that last summer, when her son Anthony Dwayne Davis was booked into the Fayette County Detention Center, jail employees ignored their pleas that he be given medication for a serious congenital heart defect.
According to the complaint, Davis was in good health when he entered the jail on June 18, 2011, but after being denied his prescription Sotalol his condition became worse. Davis says she repeatedly complained to numerous people in the jail, including medical staff, and told them that he needed his medication. Moreover, not only did the jail personnel refuse to get his medication, they also refused to let her bring the medication to her son.
Davis died a week later on June 25.
Jail records show that Davis had been evaluated early that morning and that the mental health workers in the jail claimed that he was “manipulating the system.” The records, which have since been partially redacted, also show that his mother called the jail on the 25th and was “distraught.” At one point, jail officials claimed Davis was acting “erratically” and moved him to an a separate united for refusing to follow directions, instead of putting him in the medical unit. He was finally moved to the medical unit in the evening but was found without a pulse two hours later.
This is not the first time inmates have died from lack of medical care at the FCDC, a privately-run, for-profit jail. In 2010, Dean Ferguson died of a pulmonary embolism while in FCDC custody while nurses refused to examine him after he complained of leg pain and shortness of breath. The nurses were later put on probation by the private company that provides medical care to the jail under a contract. Dead had been serving a weekend-long DUI sentence. In 1997, an inmate died while going through detoxification after he was booked for prescription forgery. In 2005, Gerald Cornett died at the jail after being refused medical care for injuries he received there, and in 2004, Dong Zhang committed suicide while left unsupervised, shortly after he was told he was being charged with murder. Most egregiously, Timothy Wayne Jackson died in FCDC custody after being tightly strapped, face down, to a mattress for two days. Davis was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been in the jail for a month with no treatment for his condition. Medical records showed that his health had been progressively deteriorating for days.
Jail and prison administrators and personnel have a duty to care for the people that are in their custody—people who are prevented from caring for themselves. More and more, prisons and jails are being transferred to private control and being run for a profit. Inmate medical and mental health care is often a low priority. When jail and prison officials neglect the health of their inmates, the act negligently and can be sued in court for the injuries or deaths they cause. While incarceration has a legitimate purpose, when time in jail turns into a death sentence, an enormous wrong has been done, and those responsible should be held accountable. If you or a family member have been injured by negligence or mistreatment in a prison or jail, an experienced attorneycan help you get the compensation you deserve.
Page Pate is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, civil litigation, and whistleblower representation. Page is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers, and named to the list of Super Lawyers for the past 15 consecutive years. Page is a frequent expert legal analyst for local and national media and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. Read Page’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Page on Twitter @pagepate and on Linkedin.