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$1 Million Payout to Family of Man Who Died After Seizures in Montana Jail

by Kevin Bliss

The family of Roger Lee Wells will receive $1 million in compensation for his death on March 10, 2018, after he suffered several consecutive seizures without ever receiving proper treatment at the Cascade County Detention Center located in Great Falls, Montana.

Wells was arrested a week earlier on a domestic violence charge. He was housed in the medical/geriatric pod of the detention center and slept on the floor of the overcrowded cell with two others. He submitted several written requests to the medical department explaining the need for his anti-seizure medication, yet never received it.

It is the responsibility of the medical staff to address all written requests for medication within a 48-hour period. According to Wells’ attorney, none of his written requests were responded to. His family attempted to drop off his medication at the county jail, but the jail refused to accept it. Wells finally told a nurse while doing her rounds about his medication. After looking into the situation, the nurse ordered the medication for Wells. It arrived at the jail the day after he died.

Wells had his first seizure around 3 a.m. on March 10. His second seizure occurred as jailers were transporting him to a padded observation room, and his third as he was placed in the cell when the nurse arrived. Wells experienced a total of nine seizures in a 2 ½-hour time period before he died, most recorded by camera between observation checks.

Current Sheriff Jesse Slaughter stated that it was protocol in the jail to transport someone to the emergency room after their second seizure. The Division of Criminal Investigation found that while some nurses working at the jail were aware of this policy, the one on duty handling Wells’ case was not.

A Billings, Montana, attorney representing the Wells estate submitted a demand letter to Planned Parenthood of Montana, which has the contract to provide the jail with general medical services. The insurance carrier for Planned Parenthood paid a $1 million settlement in October 2019 and no lawsuit was filed. 



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