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Unsealed Settlement Reveals PrimeCare Medical Paid $337,500 After Pennsylvania Prisoner’s Suicide

by David M. Reutter

On July 12, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania unsealed the settlement agreement between PrimeCare Medical and the Estate of Charles Freitag.

As PLN reported, Freitag, 57, committed suicide on August 25, 2018, at the Bucks County Correctional Facility (BCCF), one day after he was sentenced for crashing his pickup truck into his ex-wife’s house. His estate sued, noting his suicide risk was recorded during the booking process. In fact he had “attempted suicide three times in the year preceding his incarceration,” the Court later noted, when denying PrimeCare summary judgment. Freitag also had “a history of depression and anxiety,” the Court recalled. “He had never been incarcerated before, was anxious about his sentencing, and ultimately received a sentence that was far more severe than he had anticipated.”

“PrimeCare’s mental health supervisor subsequently instructed all mental health staff to ‘keep a close eye’ on Mr. Freitag as his sentencing approached,” the Court continued. Though a PrimeCare psychologist had said months prior to the sentencing hearing said that Freitag required follow up after his sentencing, it was not scheduled until three days later, by which time he had taken his own life. At their meeting on September 7, 2022, Bucks County Commissioners approved a $337,500 settlement. [See: PLN, Feb 2023, p. 20].

A settlement was also reached with PrimeCare, but details were unavailable because the district court granted PrimeCare’s motion to seal its settlement agreement. The Bucks County Courier Times moved to unseal the settlement.

“While PrimeCare is a private company, local government agency Bucks County pays it millions of dollars to exclusively provide medical, dental, and mental health services at the jail,” the news organization’s motion stated. “PrimeCare’s prison activities—funded by taxpayer dollars—are thus matters of significant concern. Yet, this inherently public information has been kept under seal for months.”

The district court agreed to unseal the 27-page document, revealing that Prime­Care also agreed to pay the Estate $337,500, for a total settlement of $675,000, inclusive of legal costs and fees. The Estate was represented by attorneys with Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP in Philadelphia. See: Freitag v. Bucks Cty., USDC (E.D. Pa.), Case No. 2:19-cv-05750.

With that success, the Courier Times said it planned motions to unseal the settlement in three other settlements involving PrimeCare as a defendant in the deaths at the jail.  


Additional source: Bucks County Courier Times

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Related legal case

Freitag v. Bucks Cty