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$214,000 Award for Injuries Caused by Dilantin Deprivation to Michigan Jail Prisoner

A Michigan federal jury awarded a former prisoner $214,000 in damages for injuries caused by policies at the Grand Traverse County Jail that failed to assure she received her Dilantin.

The plaintiff in this case, Amy Lynn Ford, was on probation for a domestic assault conviction. The evening before reporting to her probation officer she consumed four to six beers, which registered on a breath test. Ford was arrested for a probation violation and taken to jail.

While being booked, she advised guards that she was a epileptic and she had not taken her Dilantin that day. This was reported on the booking questionnaire and placed in the nurse?s inbox. Ford was then taken to a cell, where she refused to utilize the bottom bunk.

While sleeping on the top bunk she experienced a seizure, causing a fall that broke her hip and collarbone. Ford?s lawsuit contended cruel and unusual punishment. The jury found the guards were not deliberately indifferent to her condition.

The jail?s policy, however, of notifying the nurse by placing a notice in an inbox, was found to be deliberately indifferent. The nurse made her own hours on Sundays, the day of the incident. Guards had no idea if the nurse was coming or going and at what time she would receive the notice. They could have easily called her to alert to the medical concern, which would have resulted in Dilantin being provided.

The jury found the jail?s policy related to providing the Dilantin was the cause of Ford?s injuries, and awarded her $214,000 on May 5, 2006. She was represented by Fredrick E. Mackraz of Grand Rapids. ?What I take away from the verdict is that the jury felt the policies and customs of the county were a moving force behind the constitutional violation,? said Mackraz. See: Ford v. Grand Traverse County, USDC WD MI, Case No: 1:04-CV-00682-MOB.

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Related legal case

Ford v. Grand Traverse County