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Prisoner’s Family Wins Suit Against BOP Following Prisoner’s Suicide

The family members of Billy Joe Chilton filed a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b) and 28 U.S.C. Sections 2671, et seq., as well as the Missouri Wrongful Death Statute, alleging that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and employees thereof negligently caused Chilton’s suicide by substituting a prescribed psychotropic medication (Xanax) with another such medication (Lorazepam), over a five day period of time at the Federal Correctional Institute in Jessop, Georgia. The suit claimed that the acts and omissions of BOP agents, servants, and employees were within the scope and course of BOP's business, and that such individuals failed to call a psychiatrist to evaluate Chilton as his condition deteriorated, failed to hospitalize and/or place him on "suicide watch", and failed to medically evaluate him on December 18, 1994, due to his deterioration during the five previous days.

The case was tried to the court and, on July 7, 1998, the court found in favor of the plaintiff family members. The Chilton family was awarded $781,000.00 in damages and $1,039.10 in costs. The United States appealed the verdict, but later dismissed the appeal when the parties reached a settlement agreement for an unspecified sum of money. See: Chilton v. United States, USDC, E.D. Mo., No. 4:96-cv-02533-CDP.

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Related legal case

Chilton v. United States

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