Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$880,000 Settlement in Federal Prisoner’s Death in Washington State

by David M. Reutter

An $880,000 settlement has been reached in the death of a prisoner at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in SeaTac, Washington. The lawsuit alleged that the prisoner died due to negligent medical care.

When Roxanne Brown, 62, flew into Seattle from Bangkok to give a lecture on Asian Art at the University of Washington, she was arrested on a wire fraud indictment out of Los Angeles, which accused her of fraudulent appraisals for tax purposes. Brown, a U.S. and Thai citizen, was the director of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum in Bangkok.

She was housed at FDC from May 9, 2008 to May 14, 2008. Shortly after her arrival she became ill with stomach problems caused by a perforated ulcer. Over a four-day period she became increasingly worse.

By May 12, Brown had severe gastrointestinal symptoms, was vomiting and was in such great pain that she was unable to go before the federal magistrate judge. Despite being aware of her condition, FDC guards and staff did not treat Brown or take her to a hospital.

On May 13, 2008, she was able to go to court but was obviously ill. Shortly after returning to her cellblock, Brown was so sick she could not walk or care for herself. She continued to vomit, which smelled like excrement. Other prisoners carried her to the shower to clean herself.

After the 10 p.m. lockdown, Brown pleaded for help. When a guard finally responded, he told her to get up off the floor or he would not open the cell door to examine or assist her. While Brown was in agony and dying, the guard told her she had to wait for sick call in the morning for medical treatment. At around 2:30 a.m., she died in her cell.

In May 2009, the lawsuit filed by Brown’s estate settled for $880,000. Her estate was represented by Timothy K. Ford and David Whedbee of the Seattle law firm of MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless. See: Ngerntongdee v. Vaughn, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Wash.), Case No. 2:08-cv-01070-RSM.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Ngerntongdee v. Vaughn