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$635,000 Settlement in Wisconsin Woman Prisoner’s Suicide

The family of a Wisconsin prisoner who committed suicide has agreed to accept a $635,000 payment from the state to settle a federal lawsuit. The suit claimed that Taycheedah Correctional Institution (TCI) prisoner Angela Enoch was able to strangle herself with torn pieces of her pillow despite pleading for psychiatric help for days.

Enoch, 18, did not receive needed observation or mental health care that could have prevented her death. After her estate and two minor sisters filed suit seeking $10 million, settlement talks ensued but stalled. The state then offered to resolve the matter for $635,000; the offer of judgment was accepted by the plaintiffs and entered by the court on August 12, 2008 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. The state did not admit liability in the case.

“Our goal is the care of the family. Of course, we could have held out for more money. It is a substantial sum of money for the family,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, James Gende. $625,000 of the settlement will go to Enoch’s estate, while $10,000 will go to her sisters.
Gende then filed a motion for $328,740 in attorney fees and costs. On Nov. 3, 2008, the district court awarded only $100,000 in combined fees and costs, with the reduction based on limited success in the case relative to the $10 million in damages that was sought in the complaint. The court also awarded $1,500 in fees to the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the interests of Enoch’s sisters. See: Estate of Enoch v. Tienor, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Wis.), Case No. 2:07-cv-00376-RTR.

Beyond the settlement, there is still controversy regarding medical treatment at TCI. The prison is the subject of a separate federal class action lawsuit that says health care for prisoners is “grossly deficient.” The suit claims that the 700 women at the facility are vulnerable to contagious diseases and medical errors that result in suicide or painful disabilities. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue after finding that TCI’s mental health care system violated prisoners’ constitutional rights.

Additional source: Journal Sentinel

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Related legal case

Estate of Enoch v. Tienor

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