While in probation for possessing heroin, meaning he couldn’t have heroin in his possession, the man was arrested for possessing it. He died two days later in the County jail.
His parents promptly sued the county of San Diego for “wrongful death and cruel and unusual punishment.” The jury sympathized and rewarded them a $3 million settlement. They based their reasoning on 1) a denial of his civil rights; 2) the testimony of a forensic pathologist who said he died from an asthma attack caused by withdrawal; 3) their determination that the jail staff used improper procedures, including inadequate supervision, for a detoxing-inmate.
Let’s see if we understand this. The man had been jailed at other times on drug charges. Both his addiction and medical condition were documented, including his previous withdrawal procedures. When symptoms of withdrawal occurred, he requested help. The staff gave him a different anti-nausea medication because he didn’t want the prescription previously given for asthma. They also provided an emergency inhaler. Still, he died.
The lawyer representing the family assured the reporter that “more than anything,” the family wanted the litigation to bring “change” in police procedures for such inmates. Since he stressed “principle” more than anything, did the lawyer forego his 30%, or whatever percentage he gets, from the $3 million? Union-Tribune, 11/11/15
Crime does pay if you have the gall to sue the police, the courts, the doctors—anybody but yourself or the person guilty when drug or alcohol addition kills unexpectedly.
Lawyers, in the wake of the disastrous decision to let them advertise, must MAKE work. More than enough opportunities exist for them to use their education.
Think, however: why should those parents be rewarded for not putting their wayward boy in recovery programs earlier? Or why should that recidivist be the cause of rewarding vast sums because he wouldn’t commit himself to a recovery program? Or wouldn’t take the usual medication offered in jail?
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