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Illinois: $4.75 Million Settlement in Jail Seizure Injury Case

by David Reutter

Cook County, Illinois has paid $4.75 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging it failed to provide doctor-ordered accommodations for a pretrial detainee who suffered seizures.

In October 2014, Michael Joseph Borys was booked into the Cook County Jail on a misdemeanor charge. He was seen by a physician and identified as having seizures and a history of brain cancer. The doctor ordered anti-seizure medication that was not timely provided; he also ordered Borys to be assigned a bottom bunk.

Guards, however, put Borys in a top bunk in an open-bay dormitory. Guard R. Senese was able to continuously monitor him and observed he “was not acting normal.” He watched Borys “repeatedly and in rapid succession go back and forth from his top bunk to the water fountain.” He also saw him sitting up in his bunk in a strange manner as others slept in the middle of the night. Yet Senese took no action.

Around 2:25 a.m., Borys had a seizure and fell from his top bunk. He sustained severe head trauma that required him to be placed in a medical coma for a week and undergo brain surgery. He also suffered fractured eye orbitals; he lost one eye, and the brain injury caused loss of cognitive functioning that diminished his quality of life.

Represented by attorneys Richard J. Dvorak and Amanda C. Antholt, Borys filed suit in 2015. The $4.75 million settlement was reached in October 2017 and approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners the following month. Dvorak noted that his client’s injuries were “entirely avoidable,” and “an inevitable and tragic result of an unnecessarily antiquated and inefficient system” at the Cook County Jail. See: Borys v. Dart, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ill.), Case No. 1:15-cv-08972. 

Additional source: Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

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Related legal case

Borys v. Dart