State entities and predatory corporations like Wexford Health Sources can claim "victim" status if anyone so much as trespasses against them, but prisoners - including people in custody who are not yet convicted or charged - don't have legal status as victims of their criminal misdeeds. We need to change that, people...
Maricopa County administrators have agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to settle a 6-year-old lawsuit over a woman's death that occurred after she was booked into a county jail.
The county has already spent about $1.8 million to hire attorneys to defend itself in the lawsuit, said Cari Gerchick, a county spokeswoman.
Any other details on the terms of the settlement will remain under seal until the county Board of Supervisors meets on Oct. 17 to authorize the agreement, she said.
The Sheriff's Office is also not authorized to comment on the agreement until it is approved, a spokesman said.
In addition to Maricopa County and the Sheriff's Office, the lawsuit targeted Correctional Health Services, the taxpayer-funded agency that provides constitutionally mandated health care in the county jails.
The lawsuit was filed in 2006 by the surviving family members of Deborah Braillard, a 46-year-old woman who had been booked in jail several times before her entry into the Fourth Avenue Jail on Jan. 1, 2005, on suspicion of drug possession.
During her prior jail bookings, Braillard's diabetes had been noted during the health-care screening that every county inmate undergoes when admitted into jail.
But employees of Correctional Health Services failed to note Braillard's medical condition in early 2005.
Instead, because Braillard was barely coherent and slurring her words, jail health-care workers thought they were dealing with a woman in the throes of a drug addiction.
Braillard was coming off drugs and showing signs of a blood-sugar crash, according to court documents, her family and testimony from jail employees. She was disoriented, vomiting, soiling herself, sweating profusely and complaining of pain, according to court documents. Employees attributed her symptoms to drug withdrawal.
Four days after she was booked into jail, Braillard was taken to Maricopa Medical Center, where she would remain unconscious until she died 18 days later of complications from diabetes.
The form used to assess the medical condition of an incoming inmate lists 27 questions. A health-care worker completed Braillard's assessment in less than a minute, according to court documents.
No one noticed that Braillard was diabetic. An electronic medical-records system, had it been in place, could have immediately alerted employees about Braillard's condition. She had been administered insulin at the jails many times before, and an electronic system would have included her medical history.
County administrators signed a $4.5 million contract for an electronic medical-record system in March, though the network is still in the design phase, Gerchick said.