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$850,000 Settlement in LA County Jail Failure to Medicate Wrongful Death

The County of Los Angeles (LA), California settled a wrongful death claim on March 14, 2003 brought by the wife of an LA County Jail prisoner who died 2 ½ days after incarceration in August, 1999 because he was not given needed medication for his chronic illnesses.

Jerone Woods, 55, pled guilty to driving under the influence in July 1999 and accepted a 45 day jail sentence which he began one month later. Woods had a documented history of hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, high cholesterol, and prior heart attacks. He surrendered for his sentence with a supply of the five medications he took daily. One was a beta-blocker for his hypertension.

Jail staff confiscated his medications, per procedure, and referred him to the jail doctor for any prescription through the jail pharmacy that he might need. The doctor ordered anti-hypertension medication, but without the beta-blocker. Woods died 2 ½ days after being incarcerated while cleaning toilets in his 120 man dorm.

His wife sued under California Government Code § 845.6 for failure to provide Jerone with proper medications. She contended that the combined factors of sudden cessation of beta-blockers, heavy work, stress from the noisy dorm and lack of proper diet for his known medical conditions caused his death.

LA County countered that his 75-80% blocked coronary arteries, prior low dosage of beta-blockers, and past severe medical problems relieved them of responsibility for Jerone's death.

Woods' wife claimed the loss of her husband's future $30,000 annual earnings for ten years, plus wrongful death. Represented by Richard B. Koskoff of Booth & Koskoff, Torrance, California, Woods settled her claim with the Los Angeles jail for $850,000 on March 14, 2003. See: Woods v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court No. BC 236658.


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Related legal case

Woods v. County of Los Angeles