Smith County seeks to dismiss suit over inmate’s death

By David Yates | Jun 12, 2015

Smith County is seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a Tyler woman and her father-in-law for the alleged wrongful death of their husband/son in the county jail.

Hannah Francis, on behalf of daughter Brielle Rowan, a minor; and Larry Rowan, father of the deceased, of Smith County, brought suit Jan. 16 against Smith County in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Court records show that on March 3 Smith County filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently allege that a county official caused any constitutional deprivation.

According to the complaint Robert Reed Rowan, 27, died on or about Nov. 3, 2014, while incarcerated at the Smith County Jail in Tyler. Due to prior medical conditions, he had become dependent on daily antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications, the suit states, and Rowan had informed officials of his condition when first imprisoned Oct. 24, but that he was repeatedly denied medication despite withdrawal symptoms.

The plaintiffs allege the county is liable for inadequate medical care at its jail, that officials did not monitor Rowan’s condition or have medically trained employees in the facility, did not advise personnel of his condition, or maintain proper records. They further allege officials exhibited deliberate indifference to other inmates’ health needs as well as Rowan’s.

The family requests compensation for mental anguish, loss of care and support for Rowan’s daughter Brielle, for distress suffered by the decedent himself, and burial expenses.

They are represented by attorney Jimmy M. Negem and Joe M. Worthington of Negem & Worthington in Tyler.

Dallas attorney Thomas Brandt represents the county.

Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas case number: 2:15-CV-00024-JRG-RSP

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