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Federal Lawsuit Claims Texas Jail Released Man When Medical Problems Became Too Much Trouble, Resulting in Coma

by Dale Chappell

Apparently, it’s easier to release someone from jail and dismiss the charges if their issues become too much trouble, according to a lawsuit filed by James Bagley in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Bagley was arrested in September 2017 for suspected driving while intoxicated but was released a week later and rushed to the hospital after the Montgomery County jail refused to properly treat his seizures, resulting in him being induced into a coma, his lawsuit says. The charge was dismissed outright “in the interest of justice” in May 2018.

The lawsuit claims that jail staff ignored Bagley’s history of seizures and refused to provide him with the necessary medications to prevent a seizure. Bagley says his wife and his pharmacist both informed the jail of his seizure disorder and the medications he required. He says jail staff verified this information was correct but still refused to give him his medications provided to staff by his wife.

Epilepsy medications can be “highly specialized,” Bagley said in support of his claim, and that the medications must be “specifically tailored” to the person with only slight adjustments until doctors get it right, in order to prevent seizures in that person. Because jail staff ignored this critical fact, he says, the “massive” seizures he suffered after only six days in jail led him to be put into a coma at the hospital.

This violated his civil rights under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, he says. Bagley’s lawsuit says he has since suffered more seizures and has become “entirely disabled” and temporarily lost “full cognitive function.”

“None of the seizures would have occurred,” court papers say, “had Defendants simply listened to Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s wife, and/or the pharmacist who all informed Defendant’s that Plaintiff required a specific, individualized regimen of medications to treat his condition.”

Bagley says he was released from jail so that he could be transported to the hospital.

The lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, allowing redress of civil rights violations by state actors. Bagley claims “deliberate indifference” of jail staff to his serious medical needs, a failure to supervise and train staff by jail administrators, and wrongful arrest “without probable cause,” after his drunk driving charge was dismissed in light of his medical problems. All of this violated his Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution and various state laws, he says.

Bagley is represented by Eric D. Nielsen and Shea N. Palavan of Houston-based Nielsen Law Firm, and cites several damages, including physical suffering, medical bills (since he was released from jail, he was responsible for all costs of his medical care at the hospital), lost wages and mental anguish, among others. He is demanding a jury trial and requests between $200,000 and $1,000,000, to be determined by the jury, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. The county has moved for dismissal, claiming immunities and that Bagley cannot show any constitutional violations.

The lawsuit was filed September 30, 2019 and continued as PLN went to press. See: Bagley v. Montgomery County, 4:19-cv-03755 (S.D. Tex.) 


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Related legal case

Bagley v. Montgomery County