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Suit For Untreated Diabetic Prisoner’s Death In Los Angeles County Jail Lobby Settled For $700,000

Suit For Untreated Diabetic Prisoner's Death In Los Angeles County Jail Lobby Settled For $700,000

The Los Angeles County Claims Board settled out a wrongful death lawsuit for $700,000 that resulted from a jail prisoner dying from lack of insulin after sitting for three days unattended in the jail's lobby after his release.

On March 1, 2004, Los Angeles County jail prisoner Jerry Moreno was arrested for drinking in public. On March 4, his intake medical screening was conducted, and revealed that his 15-year history of insulin-dependent diabetes had resulted in his need to have two toes amputated. He was operated on on March 8, but needed subsequent surgery to remove part of his foot on March 24. He was discharged from the hospital, and put on oral diabetes medication.

On April 1, he went to court and was ordered released. At 9 p.m., he was given his medication and at 11 p.m. was released. However, he was not given any further diabetes medication to take with him. Released with crutches at 12 p.m., he simply remained in the reception center lobby for three days. On April 5, when asked by a deputy to sit up, Ortega tried but fell back. Deputies noticed that he was weak, pale, skinny, disoriented, and could barely speak. They also noticed blood in his mouth. Instead of calling paramedics, the deputies called unsuccessfully to local hospitals to send an ambulance. Finally, four hours later, they called paramedics. Ortega died later that day.

Ortega's survivors sued for wrongful death. In December 2006, the County Board of Claims settled for $700,000, after Los Angeles County had accrued its own legal and administrative costs of $210,000. See: Ortega v. County of Los Angeles, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.), Case No. CV 05-2246 JFW.

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Related legal case

Ortega v. County of Los Angeles