Jail Denied Basic Medical Care, Let Inmates Die: Suit
Prisoners could easily have been treated, lawsuits say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2014 9:00 AM CDT
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A 19-year-old in jail for shoplifting and passing a counterfeit bill died after a foot wound turned gangrenous. A 30-year-old imprisoned for harassment died of a bowel obstruction after being constipated for 13 days. A 61-year-old also jailed for harassment died of a broken femur after falling from her bunk. These are the stories told in three new lawsuits filed in federal court accusing Madison County, Ala., of withholding medical care to cut costs; in all three cases, the suits claim, authorities failed to offer treatment that could have saved the victims' lives. Details from AL.com:

  • The 19-year-old, Deundrez Woods, went to jail in the summer of 2013. Even as he started hallucinating from the infection in his foot and could no longer communicate, a suit says, he received no treatment. He didn't have access to water after Aug. 12, and after Aug. 14, there's no record of him eating or of a nurse checking on him. On Aug. 17, because of the smell emanating from his rotting foot, guards sprayed him down and put him in a new cell, the suit contends, but still no one helped him. He died on Aug. 21, according to an obituary.

  • The 30-year-old, Tanisha Jefferson, was booked on Oct. 14, 2013. On Oct. 19, she complained of pain and asked to see a doctor; on Oct. 25, she filed a medical grievance. By Oct. 28, she said her life was in danger. She saw a doctor the following day, but, a lawsuit says, he made no note of several alarming symptoms and simply prescribed laxatives. The next day, Oct. 30, she started having trouble breathing or walking, and on Oct. 31 she saw a nurse but was returned to her cell. She passed out and was taken to the medical department, but an ambulance wasn't called until she became nonresponsive, the lawsuit states. She died that night.
  • The 61-year-old, Nikki Listau, was having seizures from alcohol withdrawal and fell from her bunk on March 10, 2013. The following morning, a lawsuit says, a guard found her "naked on the floor of her cell, rambling incoherently." Guards put her back in bed, the lawsuit states, and hours later she was unresponsive. She died the next day, and the autopsy found her broken leg, broken ribs, and other blunt-force injuries.
A county attorney says all three lawsuits are "being vigorously defended." (Another awful lawsuit claims a teen Rikers inmate died after complaining of chest pain for seven months.)