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$550,000 Settlement in Georgia Prisoner’s Starvation Death

Lucero entered the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) weighing 250 pounds on November 4, 2015. His imprisonment put him into depression and on January 27, 2016, he weighed 203 pounds. His mental health continued to deteriorate, and in March 14, 2016, he requested care because he was hearing voices. Psychologist Victor Stevenson determined “mental health services” were “not warranted.”

At an April 28, 2016, “sick call,” Lucero weighed 180 pounds. He was finally sent to ASMP on May 19, 2016, and weighed 172 pounds. From that point on, until his death, medical providers recorded that Lucero was not eating, but they did nothing more.

Even as he lay in a catatonic state on June 19, 2016, nurses wrote that Lucero “refuses all interventions and meds.” The next day his weight was recorded as 145 pounds. He was placed, inexplicably, in solitary confinement on June 23 and no longer received daily medical checks.

Lucero collapsed into unconsciousness on June 27 and taken to the Augusta Medical Center.

Despite the fact it was noted he was suffering multiple life-threatening conditions due to dehydration and malnutrition, he was recommended to be discharged and returned to ASMP.

While the paperwork was being processed, Lucero suffered a deadly massive pulmonary embolism.

Represented by Atlanta attorney Matthew S. Harman, Lucero’s estate sued on July 2, 2018. The $550,000 settlement was reached on May 18, 2019.

Yet chronic problems persist at ASMP, according to an October 5, 2019 report in The Augusta Chronicle. “The medical prison’s capacity is 1,326 inmates,” the newspaper reported. “There are 95 hospital beds for acute care, 40 beds for other patients in need of nursing care, 20 beds for long-term care, 15 beds for pre- and post-operation patients, and 20 beds for accommodating living.”

PLN has previously reported on the conditions at ASMP, which is run by Georgia Correctional Healthcare. Described were unsanitary conditions where trash piled up in hallways spilling from portable Dumpsters. (See PLN, September 2018, p.38)

More recently, PLN reported on serious concerns about staff shortages, which were impacting the provision of care to prisoners as expressed by Dr. Timothy Young and other former staff members. (See PLN, February 2020, p.32) Those staffers warned that “lives are at stake,” creating “significant liability risks.” See: Madrid v. Bryson, USDC (M.D. Ga.), Case No. 5:18-cv-00228. 

 

Related legal case

Madrid v. Bryson