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Virginia Wrongful Death Jail Suit Against Correct Care Solutions Settled for $1 Million

A nurse employed by Correct Care Solutions (CCS), the company responsible for medical treatment at the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia, was fired for lying about the care she provided to a prisoner who later died.

The CCS nurse, Nigist Ketema, was also named as a defendant, along with CCS, in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Obah Farah Walker, the sister of 24-year-old Farah Saleh Farah. Farah was incarcerated at the Alexandria Detention Center for a probation violation at the time of his death on January 23, 2008.

According to court records, CCS fired Ketema upon determining that she had “fabricated” the vital signs she documented for Farah in a medical log book.

Farah, a schizophrenic, had stopped taking his medication and was not eating or drinking prior to his death. Those factors, along with his “cadaverous” appearance, should have alerted jail staff to Farah’s need for emergency medical care, Walker claimed in her suit.

Farah died two days after Ketema reported that she had logged his vital signs. Video footage from the jail, however, cast doubt on whether Ketema spent sufficient time in Farah’s cell to actually take his vitals. Deputies who were present denied that she took Farah’s vital signs, and the video did not show her doing so. The video footage, however, had a 22-second gap.

When CCS president Jerry Boyle visited the jail after Farah’s death, he and medical administrator Merry Brinkley conducted an informal test to see whether Ketema could have taken Farah’s vital signs within that 22-second time frame. “There’s no way she could have done that,” Brinkley concluded, and Boyle agreed.

On April 27, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ruled that the actions of Ketema and another nurse named in Walker’s lawsuit might have violated Farah’s Eighth Amendment rights. However, to the extent that they acted with deliberate indifference to Farah’s serious medical needs, their actions were not attributable to CCS company policies. Summary judgment was therefore granted to CCS but denied as to the individual defendants.

In June 2011, Walker notified the court that she had accepted the defendants’ second offer of judgment to resolve the case, in the amount of $1 million. Accordingly, the court entered judgment in favor of Walker and ordered disbursement of the settlement funds, including $333,333 for attorney fees, $69,667 for costs and $597,000 to Farah’s surviving family members. See: Walker v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Vir.), Case No. 1:10-cv-01012.

Additional source: Washington Examiner

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Related legal case

Walker v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC,