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$1 Million for Medical Neglect Death of Wisconsin Jail Prisoner

$1 Million for Medical Neglect Death of Wisconsin Jail Prisoner

by David M. Reutter

A Wisconsin federal jury awarded $1 million to the estate of a prisoner who died of a heart attack at the Racine County Jail (RCJ); the award came after the jury found jail officials were deliberately indifferent to the prisoner’s medical needs.

When Kendal Leonard, 57, was sentenced in August 2007 to serve 20 days on a misdemeanor conviction, he reported a history of heart problems that included surgery to implant three stents just four months earlier. He also reported being on aspirin, nitroglycerine, Lisinopril and medication for high blood pressure.

Leonard was screened by an LPN, who consulted with the on-call doctor with RCJ’s private medical contractor, Health Professionals Ltd. The doctor ordered Lisinopril and nitroglycerine, but not aspirin. He also ordered that Leonard undergo an alcohol withdrawal protocol.

Ten days into his sentence, Leonard complained to a guard of chest pains and filled out a health request form. He received no medical attention. Three days later, on September 1, 2007, he suffered a massive heart attack due to a blood clot and died en route to a hospital.

Leonard’s estate and widow sued, claiming the jail’s failure to provide him with aspirin was the proximate cause of his death because it could have prevented the clot. The lawsuit also claimed that overcrowding at RCJ prevented the delivery of needed medical care.

The federal jury found that Sheriff Robert Carlson and Deputy Andrew Ellenberg were indifferent to Leonard’s medical needs and awarded $630,000 in compensatory damages. It also awarded punitive damages of $310,000 against Carlson and $60,000 against Ellenberg.

Leonard’s estate was represented by the Milwaukee law firm of First, Albrecht & Blondis. The district court later ordered the county to pay $354,167.50 in attorney fees and $22,322.52 in costs to the estate. See: Estate of Leonard v. Racine County, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Wisc.), Case No. 2:09-cv-00699-LA.


Additional source: The Journal Times

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Related legal case

Estate of Leonard v. Racine County