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Missouri County Settles Suit Over Jail Prisoner’s Suicide for $260,000

Last year, Lincoln County, Missouri agreed to pay $260,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a jail prisoner who committed suicide in 2011.

On August 21, 2011, police from the City of Troy responded to a domestic disturbance call at the home of Terry L. Marler, Jr. They arrested Marler and transported him to the Lincoln County Justice Center. While in the police car, Marler banged his head against the car window in an attempt to harm himself.

Troy police officer Michiyo Tumulty interviewed Marler’s wife, Angela. She told him that her husband was taking anti-depressants and had threatened to kill himself. She gave him the medication and while Tumulty took it to the jail, he failed to inform jail officials of Marler’s suicide threats.

The following day, Marler’s family called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department and informed them of Marler’s history of depression, his prescribed medication and his threats to harm himself. That day, Marler was moved to an isolation cell in an area of the jail that housed ten other prisoners; eight of those prisoners overheard Marler tell a guard that he was going to commit suicide. They reported the guard laughed but took no other action.

About an hour later, Marler was found hanging from his pants in his cell. He died of asphyxiation.

Marler’s family filed a federal civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Troy, Tumulty and Lincoln County. The defendants agreed to settle the case for a total of $260,000 to be divided as follows: $104,000 in fees and $9,004.18 in costs paid to the family’s attorney, Gonzalo Fernandez; $26,995.18 paid to Angela Marler; $40,000 paid to Marler’s 18-year-old son, Nicholas; and $40,000 paid to each of Marler’s two minor daughters, Alexandra and Heather.

Following a previous prisoner suicide in 2008, Lincoln County jail officials admitted the facility lacked suicide prevention procedures and promised to implement them. It seems they did a poor job in doing so. See: Marler v. City of Troy, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Mo.), Case No. 4:14-cv-01463-CAS. 

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Related legal case

Marler v. City of Troy