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Appeals court: Jailers not deliberately indifferent in suicide

The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit did not prove that jailers at the Iberville Parish Jail were deliberately indifferent in the suicide death of a female inmate in 2008.

The woman was arrested and according to reports, told one jailer that she was going to hang herself. He told another jailer. Due to this threat and the fact the woman was combative towards jail personnel, the decision was made that she would be moved to a cell designed to isolate prisoners and placed on suicide watch. She was placed in the isolation cell, but she wasn’t searched first. She was wearing a belt, but none of the jailers that had contact with her saw the belt or realized she was wearing one.

A female deputy took the inmate to use the bathroom. When the deputy checked on the woman about 12-13 minutes later, she found the woman had used her belt to hang herself from a pipe.

The plaintiff was awarded $300,000 in damages by the trial court, but did not receive any award for punitive damages. This was the part of the verdict the plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeal, though, did not find that the plaintiff proved the jailers were deliberately indifferent to the needs of the woman who committed suicide.

The Court of Appeal did state the jailers were negligent in not taking the inmate’s belt away from the her before she was placed in the isolation cell.

If you feel that someone you love has been injured or died because of someone else’s recklessness or negligence, you should contact a Louisiana wrongful death attorney. This will help ensure your rights are protected and provide you with all the options available to pursue a possible civil case against those responsible.

Source:  courthousenews.com, “No deliberate indifference in jail suicide” Jeff Gorman, May. 09, 2013

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