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Los Angeles County Pays $475,000 In Jail Healthcare Wrongful Death

Los Angeles (LA) County settled out a wrongful death claim brought by the widow of a 71-year old prisoner who died allegedly for want of proper medical care in the county jail.

On top of the $475,000 settlement payment, the county ran up its own legal expenses of $330,227, for a total cost to taxpayers of $805,227.

On March 11, 2002, John Idlet arrived at the LA County Sheriff?s facility in a wheelchair. He had a long history of heart disease and had brought his medications with him. Early on March 28, he was found on the floor of his cell, complaining of shortness of breath. He received no medical care, even when later in the day staff heard a crackling sound in his lungs and observed that his urine was dark. By 10 p.m., he was again on the floor, now with low blood pressure as well. He was transported to the hospital at 1 a.m., where he died 14 hours later.

His widow, Philomine Long, brought a civil rights and negligence suit against LA County. The county won its motion for summary judgment on the ground that the facts did not support a claim for deliberate indifference or violation of civil rights. On Long?s appeal to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the lower court was reversed. (Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178 (9th Cir. 2006); see PLN, July, 2007) The appellate court held that a proper claim had been stated to proceed on a legal theory of the county maintaining policies that rose to a failure-to-train liability.

Rather than take the matter to an expensive trial, the parties settled in March 2007. It is not known what, if any, resulting preventive improvements to emergency medical care have been made at the LA County Jail. The settlement is posted on the PLN website. See: Long v. County of Los Angeles, LA Superior Court Case No. BC 311762; U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.) Case No. CV 03-0531 DDP.

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Long v. County of Los Angeles

Long v. County of Los Angeles