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Oregon Widow Seeks $533,000 for Jailed Husband's Death

The widow of a man who died in an Oregon jail when he was deprived of his heart medication, is seeking at least $533,000 in damages against the County.

Ray Miller, 53, was arrested in Portland, Oregon, on August 4, 2010, and charged with menacing, reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm. He was treated at a hospital for a cut lip, then booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center, (MCDC).

Deborah Miller called the jail at about 9 a.m., on August 5, 2010, to report that her husband needed his prescribed medication to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. The medication warning label recommends against abruptly discontinuing usage due to risk of heart attack and death.

That evening, Miller was transferred to Multnomah County's Inverness Jail, where he told a deputy that he needed his medicine. Guards recorded his request in a log that was given to Inverness Jail nursing staff.

Yet, medical staff did not fax a request for Miller's medical records to MCDC. Nursing staff also failed to ask Miller about his medical condition and medications.

On August 5, 2010, Miller collapsed in his cell, and he was transported to the hospital. He died there the next day.

Miller's wife first brought federal suit against the County in 2011. She alleged medical negligence, wrongful death, civil rights violations and other claims in that suit.

In June 2015, however, a federal magistrate dismissed that suit, finding that Miller did not report to a hospital nurse or jail staff that he was taking heart medication or had any cardiovascular problems. The judge found that although Miller told a guard that he needed his medication, he did not report any "problems" to jail staff.

After the federal action was dismissed, Deborah Miller filed a wrongful death action against the County in the Multnomah County Circuit Court, seeking at least $533,000 in damages. We will report on any significant developments in the case.

Source: The Oregonian/OregonLive

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