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$100,000 Settlement in South Carolina Jail Death

On May 12, 1999, Spartanburg county in South Carolina announced it would pay $100,000 to settle a wrongful death suit filed by the estate of a prisoner. On June 7, 1998, John Pruitt, a detainee in the Spartanburg county jail, collapsed and died of a heart attack. Five hours before his death Pruitt had complained to jail staff of chest, stomach and arm pains. They took no action.

Pruitt's estate sued the county jail for medical neglect. The county settled by agreeing to pay the estate $100,000 from the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, a taxpayer funded agency that insures state and local governments in South Carolina.

In the aftermath of Pruitt's death, jail director Larry Powers fired the nurse and suspended the two guards, without pay, for three days, who had ignored Pruitt's plea for medical attention.

The 600 bed jail has announced plans to provide 24 hour medical care to its prisoners, which entails doubling the jail's medical budget to $500,000 a year and doubling the jail's current medical staff of two nurses and a part time doctor.

Post and Courier.

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