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

$2.4 Million Awarded for Wrongful Death of Virginia Prisoner

On September 13, 2011, a Virginia jury awarded the estate of a Richmond City Jail prisoner $2.4 million in a wrongful death suit.

James D. Robinson, 46, was arrested and booked into the jail in 2008 after he suffered a seizure while driving with a suspended license and crashed his car into a house. Despite jail officials knowing that Robinson had a seizure disorder, he was not housed in the medical section of the facility and did not receive his anti-seizure medication for ten days.

Robinson complained of swollen legs and pain in his chest, mid-section and side during the entire time he was held at the jail. He had to walk hunched over and stayed in bed most of the time. However, deputies simply ignored his and other prisoners’ repeated requests to provide him with medical care.

Robinson’s mother contacted the jail seeking medical attention for her son; she was told that he was receiving effective treatment.

A jail health care employee – who was not licensed to do so – ordered X-rays of Robinson’s abdomen and lower back. Despite the fact that he was complaining of chest pain and trouble breathing, no X-rays were made of his chest. Jail physician Dr. Stanley N. Furman then concluded that Robinson’s lungs were clear even though, according to the complaint, they were “definitely not clear but were harboring a growing and deadly infection.”

Robinson collapsed on his eleventh day at the jail. He was shaking and had no pulse. A jail health care employee used a malfunctioning defibrillator in an unsuccessful attempt to revive him; he was then transferred to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center (MCV), where he was pronounced dead.

Represented by attorney Mark J. Krudys, Robinson’s estate filed a wrongful death suit in Circuit Court against Sheriff C. T. Woody, Jr. and Dr. Furman. After a week-long trial, the jury awarded the estate $2.4 million. Sheriff Woody was found liable for the conduct of jail staff who ignored Robinson’s repeated requests for medical care. Dr. Furman was found liable for failing to diagnose the pneumonia that led to Robinson’s death.

“The pneumonia was so extensive that the other side’s expert testified that Mr. Robinson essentially drowned from pus that had collected in his lungs,” said Krudys.

“An inmate at the jail cannot call down to CVS for medication,” he noted. “They can’t call MCV and say ‘I need some care right now.’ They are totally depending on the medical services staff.”

The defendants appealed, but agreed to settle the case on May 18, 2012 while the appeal was pending. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Robinson’s estate received a total of $2.05 million, inclusive of attorney fees. See: Gaines v. Senior Health Center PC, Richmond Circuit Court (VA), Case No. CL09-002343-00.

The Richmond City Jail has since contracted with a private company, Correct Care Solutions, to provide medical services at the facility.

Sources: Richmond Times-Dispatch,

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

Gaines v. Senior Health Center PC