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L.A. County Pays $300,000 for Wrongful Death of Psychiatric Jail Prisoner

Los Angeles County settled with the estate of a deceased prisoner who died in the County Jail from inadequate care for his known psychiatric needs.

Darran Craig, 31, was arrested on January 13, 2004. On January 14, intake medical screening established that he had a history of mental illness, and he was placed on the psychiatric evaluation line. On February 25, he was placed in a single cell after a psychologist so ordered, with 15 minute observation checks. Later that morning, on a regular 10:30 a.m. check, Craig was unresponsive to questions by staff; the reasons why were never ascertained. At pill-call at 12:10 p.m., staff found Craig non-responsive on his right side between the toilet and bunk. Assuming he was asleep or just not wanting to respond, staff assumed Craig needed no help. In a 12:45 p.m. security check, Craig was found dead on the floor. The autopsy revealed that Craig suffocated from a chunk of saran wrap in his airway -- probably from a lunch sandwich. Either Craig committed suicide or accidentally choked on the wrap.

County officials concluded that their care of Craig fell below the standard of care owed him, and settled in March 2006 for $300,000 to avoid an estimated trial liability of $705,000. See: Craig v. County of Los Angeles, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Cal.), Case No. CV 05-01711 ER.

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Related legal case

Craig v. County of Los Angeles