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Texas Federal Jury Awards $2.25 Million in Private Prison Medical Neglect Case

On October 24, 2012, a Texas federal jury awarded $2.25 million to the survivors of a federal prisoner who died while in the custody of a private prison due to prison officials' failure to provide him with previously-prescribed anti-seizure medication.

Mario Garcia was a 42-year-old federal prisoner When he was incarcerated at the Brooks County Detention Center (BCDC), a facility in Falfurrias, Texas owned and operated by LCS Correction Services, a private prison company based in Lafayette, Louisiana. Garcia had pleaded guilty to a federal charge on December 31, 2008, and was placed on suicide watch upon his arrival at ECDC. On January 12, 2009, he suffered a fatal seizure.

Garcia had previously been prescribed anti-seizure medications for a known seizure disorder by his private physician before being sent to BCDC. However, BCDC officials did not provide Garcia with his anti-seizure medications.

After his arrival at BCDC, Garcia began suffering from headaches and seizures. He was taken to Christus Spohn Hospital in Kingsville, Texas. Hospital physicians noted that BCDC had not been providing Garcia with his anti-seizure medications and gave the BCDC guards instructions for BCDC medical personnel to give Garcia the medications. However, they never did

Assisted by Houston attorney David W. Hellman and lead attorney Kathy Snapka, Garcia's wife, Monica, and minor son, Paul, filed a federal Bivens  action alleging denial of Garcia's civil rights and state law claims of wrongful death and survival. The federal jury found that the negligence of LCS Corrections Services, Inc. employees was 100% the proximate cause of Garcia's death. The jury awarded Monica Garcia $50,000 for past pecuniary losses, 5100,000 in future pecuniary losses, $50,000 for past loss of companionship and society, $100,000 for future loss of companionship and society, $100,000 for past mental anguish and00,000 for future mental anguish. It awarded Paul Garcia $250,000 for past loss of companionship and society, $500,000 for future loss of companionship and society, $250,000 for past mental anguish and $250,000 for future mental anguish. Finally, the jury awarded Garcia's estate $500,000 for his pain and mental anguish. The total jury award was $2.25 million.

"Monica Garcia's objective was to speak for Mario to ensure that no other Person is denied the right to receive medical attention," said Snapka.

Hopefully, this large jury award will convince LCS Corrections to give all of its prisoners constitutionally-adequate access to medical care. See: Garcia v. LCS Correction Services, Inc., U.S.D.C.-S.D.Tex., Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-00004.

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Related legal case

Garcia v. LCS Correction Services, Inc.