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$80,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Prisoner’s Suicide

The private medical provider at Utah’s Salt Lake County Jail (SLCJ) has settled a lawsuit in a prisoner’s suicide for $80,000. The lawsuit was originally filed in federal court, but landed in state court prior to the settlement.

After Jeremy Ruybal, 27, hanged himself with a bed-sheet in his isolation cell, his family sued Comprehensive Psychological Services and several doctors employed by that company. Two months prior to his entry into SLCJ on December 3, 2002, Ruybal attempted suicide with a heroin overdose. Ruybal was also bipolar and had not been taking his medication.

When he entered SLCJ, Ruybal’s family passed a note to a guard to inform authorities of his mental illness, suicide attempts, failure to take medications, and their fear he would attempt suicide. Yet, “the mental health intake person there talked to Jeremy for just a minute and he seemed happy,” said attorney Kevin Robson.

Because Ruybal refused to submit to a tuberculosis test, he was placed in solitary confinement while he awaited the results of a chest x-ray. Two days later, “he hanged himself with his bed-sheet, which should never have been in his room….,” Robson said.

Ruybal’s family alleged in their malpractice lawsuit that the suicide would not have occurred had his mental health condition been properly evaluated and handled. The suit was settled for $80,000, which was evenly divided among Ruybal’s three minor children.
Of special note here is that Ruybal’s was sent to jail for a probation violation on a misdemeanor charge, that occurred nine years before his death. The violation was based upon missing probation appointments. See: Trujillo v. Comprehensive Psychological Services, Third District Court, Salt Lake County, Case No: 050910355.

Additional source: Deseret News.

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Related legal case

Trujillo v. Comprehensive Psychological Services