A new wrongful death suit was filed on the behalf of an inmate in an Oregon jail in reaction to video evidence of prison staff outright ignoring his numerous pleas for help in a medical observation cell.
The lawsuit was filed this month by the family of deceased inmate Jed Myers against Yamhill County and its staff. The suit seeks a minimum of $12 million in economic and non-economic damages, as well as an unspecified amount of punitive damages for the man's completely preventable death, the suit alleges. He had been moved to a medical cell after being assaulted by two other inmates in his general population cell. He was initially evaluated by a medical technician and left alone. What happened next was unsettling.
Videos, recordings, and police investigative reports reveal a badly beaten Myers tumbling around his cell in pain. With his hand on his side, the inmate walked back and forth to the cell door a whopping 19 times to notify prison guards of his condition. He pressed the button for the intercom screaming for help. Next to his mattress viewers can see a toilet filled with blood, he had been urinating in it quite frequently within the five hour period of Myers failed attempts of receiving medical attention. His shoulder appeared to be dislocated as he walked back and forth, while he screamed about the seemingly unbearable pain in his side. Jail guards noticed but continued to look on while Myers suffered in his cell.
It wasn't until the inmate fell to the floor beside his bed and stopped breathing at 1 a.m. that guards decided to check on him. But it was too late. He had died on May 28, 2014, the exact same day he was expected to be released from custody and placed on probation for a four-day parole violation sanction.
The state medical examiner's report revealed that Myers died an extremely painful death. He had suffered a lacerated left kidney, traumatic brain injury, a broken rib, a broken right clavicle, and large bruises on his head and body. In addition to these injuries, he had been bleeding internally and passing that blood through his urine. The lawsuit, along with the report that the inmate's official cause of death was the blunt force abdominal trauma he suffered due to the beating.
The family's lawyer, Matthew Kaplan, explained that the jail was negligent in handling the situation. He claims that if they would have given him the proper medical care, he would have survived the assault. Kaplan also mentioned that Myers had left behind a three-year-old daughter.
“Jail staff ignored all the obvious and horrific symptoms that were plainly visible on the monitor for over five fours,” Kaplan said. “They basically isolated this guy who they know is hurt and watched him die. He has to stop breathing for them to finally go into his cell again and check on him.”
The Myers lawsuit argues that negligent guards faced no repercussions when for ignoring the inmate's pleas. The county jail has not yet responded to the allegations.