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Texas Wrongful Death Jail Lawsuit Settles For $375,000

In June 2006, Navarro County, Texas, agreed to pay $375,000 to the family of a juvenile prisoner who received no medical attention following his imprisonment in the county jail and died the following day.

Jesus Martinez, a minor, was arrested on April 12, 2003, after he was found unconscious in the front yard of a home in the city of Corsicana, Texas. Martinez was examined by emergency medical personnel prior to booking and was seen by a nurse at the jail. The next day Martinez was found dead in a holding cell.

According to the autopsy report Martinez died from "blunt force injuries" consisting of liver lacerations, a cerebral contusion, a bowel perforation, and rib fractures.

Martinez's family sued the County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988 claiming that a practice, policy, or custom of failing to provide proper medical intake screening and suitable medical treatment at the jail was the proximate cause of his death at the jail. The family further asserted that jail personnel exhibited deliberate indifference in not treating Martinez's life threatening injuries and that this indifference violated clearly established constitutional law, namely, the Eighth Amendment.

The Defendants argued that Martinez appeared highly intoxicated and did not complain until 40 minutes before his death. They denied any negligence and said they thought Martinez was merely suffering from a hangover.

Martinez's family presented expert testimony from Steve J. Martin, a corrections consultant on jail standards based in Austin, Texas, and Paul B. Radelat, M.D., a forensic pathologist in Houston, Texas.

The family was represented by attorneys Les Weisbrod, William A Newmann, Leila Anne D'Aquin, and Kevin L. Koronka of the Dallas, Texas, law firm Morgan & Weisbrod, and attorney Domingo Garcia, also of Dallas, Texas. See: Sifuentes v. Navarro County, USDC ND TX, Case No. 3:04-CV-02307.

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Related legal case

Sifuentes v. Navarro County