Volusia County Sued Over Inmate’s Death

The aunt of an inmate who died in her Volusia County Branch Jail cell has filed a federal lawsuit against the county and its private health care contractor, claiming the prison’s medical staff failed to properly treat her niece who was going through severe drug withdrawals.

The 28-year-old inmate died on September 16, 2009 after seven days in custody. The attorney bringing the suit for the family said that the death was “absolutely preventable.”

The lawsuit alleges the woman repeatedly vomited while at the prison and lost nearly 20 pounds before she ultimately choked to death. The attorney for the plaintiff claims that the Volusia jail had poor monitoring of inmates and too few trained medical workers. The suit also alleges the inmate had said she needed to go to a hospital, long before she was found dead in a medical segregation cell.

Jail staff had listed her condition as “good” just before her death. The medical examiner listed her death as “natural” and the jail never conducted an internal-affairs investigation in connection with the incident.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Prison Health Services, the private health care contractor, took over Volusia’s medical care contract in 2005. It is the largest private prison health care provider in the country. It has also received at least 260 federal complaints in the past 18 months.

The plaintiff’s attorney claims that the company skimps on care to save money.

The victim’s aunt told the News-Journal that instead of giving her niece the best care possible, the jail’s attitude was, “Oh, she’s just another junkie coming into the Branch Jail.”

If you believe a loved one has died as the result of negligence, you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. A Volusia County wrongful death attorney at Farah & Farah can help your family hold those responsible accountable for their actions. For questions regarding your legal options, call us at (800) 533-3555. We’re here to help.