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$1.75 Million Settlement in Michigan Prisoner's Wrongful Death

By Christopher Zoukis

The estate of a woman who died while detoxing in a Kalamazoo, Michigan county jail settled a wrongful death claim for $1.75 million on November 15, 2013.

Andrea Suzanne Armstead, 21, was booked into the Kalamazoo County Jail October 30, 2011 on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. Over the next three days, Armstead and her cellmates made multiple written requests for medical treatment for Armstead's heroin withdrawal symptoms, all of which were ignored.

On November 2, 2011, Armstead began convulsing. When a jail nurse observed her on the floor, he left to consult jail protocol on what to do. When he returned, Armstead had no blood pressure and was in full cardiac arrest.

Armstead spent the next six days on life support at a local hospital. The 21-year-old died November 8, 2011.

Elizabeth Keller, personal representative of Armstead's estate, sued Kalamazoo County and three jail nurses for wrongful death, medical malpractice and civil rights violations. The nurses claimed that they followed jail protocol, and that (despite numerous requests for help) they couldn't have known that Armstead was suffering from a serious medical condition. Before trial, the parties agreed to settle the matter for $1.75 million. 

See: Keller v. Kalamazoo County, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Case No. 1:12-cv-00843-PLM (November 15, 2013).

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Related legal case

Keller v. County of Kalamazoo