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California Shells Out $250,000 to Settle Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit

In September 2008, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a wrongful death suit brought by Victoria Wright, the surviving spouse of former CDCR prisoner Jay Wright, who died of cardiac arrest on August 23, 2005, while in the custody of officials at High Desert State Prison in
Susanville, California.

At the time of his death, Jay Wright was 53 years old. He was serving a term of 18 months for tax delinquencies. He suffered from heart disease for which he was successfully treated with daily medication. He received that medication upon his initial incarceration at San Quentin, but, according to the complaint filed by his surviving spouse, abruptly stopped receiving it when he was transferred to Susanville, "[d]espite his constant requests for medication."

Jay Wright died nine days after his transfer to Susanville. His wife Victoria sued for damages in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to Jay Wright's serious medical needs (in violation of the Eighth Amendment), as well as a state-law wrongful death claim. Sources: Wright v. Runnels, Case No. 2:05-cv-2530-MCE-EF (U.S. District Court (E.D. Cal.), 2008).

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Related legal case

Wright v. Runnels