Seattle Times Reports on Jail Death Lawsuit

The Seattle Times has reported on a case involving the death of Matthew Smith in the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma, Washington. Budge & Heipt, co-counsel for the parents of the deceased man, filed the case against Naphcare, Inc., which is the company responsible for providing medical care to the jail’s inmates.

From the Seattle Times.  Published August 3, 2016:

TACOMA — The family of an inmate who died in the Pierce County Jail has sued the county in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Ben and Nona Smith filed the lawsuit last week on behalf on their son Matthew Smith, The News Tribune reported.

Smith, of Bonney Lake, died on a jail cell floor in October 2015 from an infection related to his severe Crohn’s disease, according to medical records. He was 48.

The lawsuit alleges the infection came from insufficient medical attention including a failure by staff to identify his worsening condition and get him medical treatment outside the jail.

The suit also names NaphCare Inc., a correctional health-care firm, and two nurses, alleging their lack of treatment constituted inhumane conditions.

The lawsuit details Smith’s multiple interactions with medical staff members, including blood lab work made available to medical personnel two days before his death that showed he “was in severe kidney failure due to his gastrointestinal issues.”

Bradley Cain, an attorney for NaphCare, said in an email to the News Tribune that the company had not been served with the lawsuit, making it premature for them to comment.

The lawsuit also claims the county has allowed a pattern to exist at the jail in which inmates with serious medical needs aren’t properly cared for.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said in an email the jail accommodated Smith’s dietary needs related to Crohn’s disease and that when jail staff saw Smith on the floor of his cell, they called medical personnel.

“The response team included a medical doctor who quickly assessed the situation and called for priority medical aid,” he wrote. “Tacoma Fire medics arrived and attempted life-saving efforts. Corrections deputies have saved many inmates lives.”

Smith was arrested Aug. 27, 2015, after Bonney Lake police said they saw him driving recklessly.

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