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$470,000 Paid in Pennsylvania Jail Prisoners Seizure Related Death

$470,000 Paid in Pennsylvania Jail Prisoner's Seizure Related Death

The Estate of a Pennsylvania prisoner has settled its civil rights action alleging Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment violations for the wrongful death of Virginia Brejcak, 42, at the Bucks
County Correctional Facility (BCCF) for $470,000. The federal lawsuit was brought against
various medical personnel at BCCF, Bucks County, the Bucks County Health Department,
Diamond Pharmacy Services, and Diamond Drugs, Inc.

Brejcak was incarcerated at BCCF from July 2001 through December 2001. She was known by
BCCF staff to have physiological and psychiatric problems. She also had a severe case of MRSA
(Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Her medical record documented a seizure
disorder, bipolar disorder, and that she suffered from severe witnessed and unwitnessed
seizures. Because BCCF did not have a female mental health unit, Brejcak was placed in medical

As part of her treatment, BCCF doctor prescribed and administered a decongestant drug,
Naldecon, which contains the ingredient Phenylpropanolamine (PPA). PPA was the subject of an
FDA Public Health Advisory that recommended that all products with PPA be removed from the
market, due to the high risk of hemorrhage stroke in women.

Despite that advisory, BCCF continued to prescribe Naldecon by mouth twice daily. The
Diamond defendants dispensed to Brejcak Decon Tablet SA, a generic version of Naldecon,
which contained PPA.

Brejcak began experiencing multiple seizures, was losing control of her bowel and bladder,
began hitting her head on the floor and other objects during seizure activity, was losing memory
of these seizures, began developing visual lumps and bumps on her forehead and skull, and
experienced severe headaches. Brejcaks repeated requests for hospitalization were denied.

On December 25, 2001, Brejcak had another seizure and failed to respond to verbal stimuli.
Suffering from a brain hemorrhage, she was taken to the emergency room and died the next day.

The Estate claimed the defendants ignored Brejcak's medical history and failed to properly treat
her MRSA infection. It further claimed the doctors and Diamond defendants continued
medication they knew posed a significant risk of harm to Brejcak. Finally, it was claimed there
was a policy and practice of ignoring prisoners' complaints for medical care, and it placed
Brejcak in lock down as punishment for her mental illness because it failed to provide mental
health care for females.

The district court dismissed the individual defendants because their conduct did not rise to the
level of deliberate indifference, but the remaining entity claims remained. The Buck County
Health Department paid the Estate, through its insurer Admiral Insurance Co., $200,000; The
Diamond defendant's insurer; Pharmacist Mutual paid $110,000; and Bucks County paid
$160,000 for acts in Brejcaks death. The settlement occurred on November 2, 2005.

The Estate was represented by Michael F. Barrett and Donna Lee Jones, of Saltz, Mongeluzzi,
Barrett, & Bendesky of Philadelphia. See: Brejcak v County of Bucks, USDC, Eastern District
Pennsylvania, Case No: 03-4688.

Source:Verdicts Search Pennsylvania

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Related legal case

Brejcak v County of Bucks