by David M. Reutter
On September 8, 2022, the federal court for the Eastern District of Missouri approved a settlement under which St. Louis County agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve claims that a state prisoner detained in the county jail died due to denied medical care.
From his arrest for parole violation on June 3, 2019, until his death eight days later, Daniel Stout, 31, was held at the county’s Buzz Wesfall Justice Center. Stout allegedly did not have a bowel movement during his entire incarceration. He reported this to nursing staff at the jail, but they took no action other than to give him over-the-counter medication for constipation.
On the last day of his life, June 11, 2019, Stout was transported to the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, & Correctional Center (ERDCC) of the state Department of Corrections (DOC). In the hours before he left the jail, Stout repeatedly asked to see a nurse. He was told he would have to wait until morning but that he would see a nurse prior to transport.
In the interim, Stout vomited numerous times. A guard questioned a nurse about Stout’s condition, but she attributed it to nervousness about being sent to prison. One guard said Stout’s vomit resembled “motor oil.” Despite that, Stout was not seen by a nurse or otherwise provided medical care before he was placed on a DOC van for the one-hour trip to ERDCC.
Upon arrival there, Stout vomited coagulated blood. First responders were called, but by the time they arrived Stout was dead. An autopsy determined he died from peritonitis due to a perforated duodenal ulcer.
Before Stout’s death, between January 18, 2019, and March 1, 2019, detainees Larry “Jay” Reavis, John M. Shy and Lamar Catchings also died at the jail, allegedly after being denied medical care. Then, on December 27, 2019, Jo’Von Mitchel died, too. An internal report on those four deaths and Stout’s found that staff observed the detainees “acting strangely shortly before they died and in most cases asked for medical assistance that they didn’t receive.”
Represented by attorneys from Plebam & Perruska Law in St. Louis, Stout’s mother, Angela Malcich, filed suit on behalf of her son’s estate in 2020. Proceeding under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, she accused the county, as well as guards and nursing staff at the jail of deliberate indifference to his serious medical need, in violation of his Eighth Amendment guarantee of freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Pointing to the other four deaths around the same time, Malcich alleged that Defendants had “a history of denying medical care to inmates at the Justice Center,” as the Court later recalled.
The parties then proceeded to reach their settlement agreement. Under its terms, the county agreed to pay $650,000, and an insurance company for the nurses paid another $550,000, for a total of $1.2 million. Of that, $569,234 went to Plaintiff’s attorneys for their fees and costs. See: Malcich v. St. Louis Cty., USDC (E.D. Mo.), Case No. 4:20-cv-01030.
Additional source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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