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$625,000 Settlement for Virginia Jail Prisoner’s Death from Untreated Ulcer

A $625,000 settlement was reached in the death of a pretrial detainee due to an untreated, ruptured ulcer at Virginia’s Hampton Roads Regional Jail (HRRJ).

The August 6, 2016 death of Henry Clay Stewart, Jr., 60, came almost a year after the high-profile death of another HRRJ prisoner, Jamycheal Mitchell. As reported in PLN, Mitchell, who had been arrested for shoplifting, died in his jail cell from malnutrition. [See: PLN, Nov. 2018, p.32; July 2018, p.44; Feb. 2017, p.24].

Stewart was unable to eat much in the weeks before his death, said Brent Lashley, who was in Stewart’s cellblock. When he did try to eat, he vomited it up along with blood. That happened one day when Lashley gave Stewart a snack bar. 

“I’m not a doctor, but it looks like you’re bleeding internally,” Lashley told him.

On August 4, 2016, Stewart fell and hit the back of his head as he was climbing the stairs in his cellblock. Guards and a nurse stepped over him, Lashley said. The nurse told him to get in line and she would give him a pain pill.

“He went into his cell and immediately vomited again, fresh blood,” Lashley stated. Stewart then filed an emergency grievance. “I have blacked out two times in less than 24 hours,” he wrote. “I keep asking to go to the emergency room ... I can’t hold down food or water.”

The denial was swift. “Mr. Stewart, not only have you been refusing your seizure medication, but ... you were witnessed walking to the top tier and sitting on the walkway. You’ve also been further evaluated off site by specialists,” the nurse wrote when rejecting his grievance. 

After he received that response, Stewart gave Lashley his sister’s phone number and asked him to call her and tell her what occurred if something happened to him. Two days later, Stewart died. [See: PLN, Dec. 2018, p.52].

“They could have helped my brother. They could have saved my brother,” said Michelle Wilson, who added a proper investigation into Mitchell’s earlier death at the jail would have spurred action to prevent such gross medical indifference. “I want justice. I don’t want it to happen to another family.”

Stewart’s estate agreed to the settlement on August 9, 2018. HRRJ paid $100,000 while Correct Care Solutions, the jail’s medical provider, now known as Wellpath, agreed to pay $525,000. Of those amounts, the Kurdys Law Firm received $203,477.08 in attorney fees plus $4,826.25 in litigation costs. See: Austin v. Correct Care Solutions, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Vir.), Case No. 2:17-cv-00291-RJK. 


Additional source: The Virginian-Pilot

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Related legal case

Austin v. Correct Care Solutions