Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$75,000 Settlement in Florida Pretrial Detainee’s Suicide Death

Corizon Health, Inc. paid $75,000 to settle a claim that it failed to provide proper medical care to a pretrial detainee who was suffering from a psychiatric emergency.

Mariangela Woycenko suffered a psychotic episode at St. Lucie Hospital on April 11, 2010. Based on the hospital report, officers from the Port Saint Lucie, Florida, Police Department went to her home to question Woycenko, as well as her son, and her boyfriend. They made a decision to involuntarily commit her via Baker Act to New Horizons of the Treasure Coast.

The next day, she was evaluated and discharged. The discharge diagnosis noted “that the goal of improvement in paranoid thoughts was not achieved.” Woycenko’s son gave into her requests to drive. Minutes later, she became “irrational and combative, yelling that people were trying to kill her, and she accelerated the car to excessive speeds and ran traffic lights,” the complaint says. Her son was able to wrestle control and stop the car.

Woycenko fled the vehicle and her son caught and restrained her. Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies arrived in response to a 911 call.

A decision was made to return Woycenko to New Horizons. On the way, Woycenko was able to get loose from her handcuffs, and she attacked and bit the deputy driving. She was sprayed with pepper spray and subdued. Deputies then decided to arrest her for resisting arrest with violence and two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer.

At the jail, she was deemed a threat to herself and placed in a medical observation cell on psych watch, which required 15-minute checks. Despite that, she was “left [with] dangerous items in the room such that Ms. Woycenko was caused to hang herself with bed linen,” the civil complaint alleged.

It was also alleged that guards did not make the required checks and falsified logs starting they did. Woycenko’s estate made claims against the sheriff of Saint Lucie County; New Horizons, Corizon, and several deputies, nurses and doctors.

The medical negligence claim against Corizon alleged it failed to: provide Woycenko with proper medical care, place her on suicide watch, request an emergency mental health evaluation, establish proper protocol for patients such as Woycenko, and that it failed to have properly trained nurses on duty.

The $75,000 settlement resolved only the claim against Corizon. Woycenko’s estate was represented by attorney Lorenzo Williams. See: Moraes v. Mascara, et al., USDC, S.D. Florida, Case No. 2:12-cv-14155

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Moraes v. Mascara, et al.