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Monterey County, California Pays $365,000 for Jail Prisoner’s Death

by Douglas Ankney

Officials in Monterey County, California agreed to pay the family of Jacob Parenti $365,000 to settle a lawsuit over his death while he was held at the Monterey County Jail (MCJ).

In 2013, Parenti was on his way home from work when, during a traffic stop, police discovered he had a small amount of marijuana. The court offered Parenti a choice: spend one year at the MCJ or have two more years added to his probation. Parenti chose the year in jail because he wanted to later move to Butte County so he could live near his son.

Days after Parenti was incarcerated, he told his mother that MCJ staff were not providing him with his blood pressure and psychotropic medications. Then, on January 10, 2014, he reported that he thought he had the flu. He was not taken to sick call and began coughing up blood.

Five days later, a guard came to Parenti’s cell to take him to the nurse. The guard called Parenti’s name several times and shook him; he was unresponsive and had labored breathing. The guard left without summoning anyone. About an hour later, other prisoners observed that Parenti was not breathing and had turned blue. One prisoner started CPR. EMS personnel were summoned but unable to resuscitate him.

A county autopsy report found Parenti’s death was due to drug intoxication, but an independent autopsy revealed he died from the flu complicated by pneumonia. Medical care at the jail was provided by the California Forensic Medical Group. [See: PLN, April 2016, p.1].

The lawsuit filed by his family alleged, among other claims, deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, failure to furnish and summon medical care, and wrongful death. The $365,000 settlement was approved by the district court on March 18, 2019. See: Parenti v. County of Monterey, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 5:14-cv-05481-BLF.

The settlement came just weeks after a federal jury ordered Monterey County to pay $1.6 million to the family of Mark Pajas, Sr., an MCJ prisoner who died in 2015. [See: PLN, June 2019, p.42]. 


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Related legal case

Parenti v. County of Monterey