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Hudson County Settles for $407,500 over Wrongful Death of New Jersey Inmate

by Christopher Zoukis

 A complaint filed on behalf of a 34-year-old woman who died due to inadequate medical treatment while in jail resulted in a settlement of $407,500. The agreement allocated $152,030 of that for attorney's fees and expenses.

     The woman, who had been confined in the Hudson County, New Jersey, jail for ten days, sought medical attention when she began showing signs and symptoms of an esophageal-aortic fistula. The nursing staff, rather than arranging for an immediate surgery, administered cough syrup and Tylenol, then sent her back to the dormitory. She died shortly thereafter.

     Upon the woman's death, the plaintiff in this case filed a complaint in state court, alleging nursing malpractice and violation of the woman's right to receive proper medical care while in state custody. The case was reassigned to federal court in Newark before being transferred to the federal court in Trenton.

     The plaintiff argued that the nurses negligently failed to recognize a life-threatening medical emergency, and that timely surgery may have saved the decedent's life. The plaintiff maintained that the Tylenol exacerbated the bleeding, and that the woman suffered approximately six hours of severe pain prior to her death. The woman left five children, who did not reside with her. The defense contended that surgery would not have saved her life.

     The parties reached an agreement prior to trial. Hudson County agreed to pay $400,000 and a private company that provided medical personnel to the county agreed to an additional $7,500, totaling $407,500. The plaintiff was represented by Jonathan Koles of Koles, Burke & Bustillo, LLP of Jersey City, New Jersey.

 See: Santiago v. Hudson County, et al., United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Trenton Division, Case No. 10-cv-03059-PGS (Oct. 2011)

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Related legal case

Santiago v. Hudson County, et al.