Medical staff sued for inmate's death

By Marilyn Tennissen | Apr 5, 2007

The wife of an inmate who died in a Jefferson County correctional facility has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the prison's medical staff and the hospital that treated him.

Carol Randolph-Brown filed the suit against Dr. Paul Mallett of Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital,several nurses and medical staff employed by the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston at the LeBlanc Unit in Jefferson County on behalf of James Taylor Brown, decedent.

According to the plaintiff's original petition filed March 30 in Jefferson County District Court, on April 12, 2005, Brown became dizzy and collapsed in the shower at the prison. According to witnesses, one side of his face drooped and half of his body "went dead." Prison personnel suspected a stroke, and Brown was transported to Memorial Hermann.

While at Memorial, Brown was seen by Mallett, Francesca Day R.N. and Karen Groff R.N. After performing a CT Scan, Dr. Steven Cherawaty at Memorial Hermann found the test results normal. Dr. Mallett made a diagnosis of depression, and Brown was released to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on April 13.

"Yet at the time of his release from the hospital,Taylor Brown could not talk and was unable to stand or walk," the petition says.

According to the petition, Brown returned to the prison he was placed in solitary confirenment after "transporting prison guards felt that Taylor Brown was being noncompliant."

When unable to walk to the cell door to have his handcuffs removed, "he was pepper sprayed by the guards."

Two nurses at the prison, Linda Buckalew LVN and Janet King R.N. examined Brown and pronounced him physically able to comply with the guards' requests.

When Brown still did not come to the cell door, the plaintiff says he was again pepper sprayed by the guards and was then placed naked, face down on his cell floor.

"He remained there for over 12 hours until a guard noticed a brown fluid coming from his head," the petition says.

Brown was pronounced dead at 7:34 a.m. April 14, 2005, at Mid Jefferson Hospital. According the petition, an autopsy performed showed that Brown died "from a massive left cerebral stroke."

The plaintiff alleges that Dr. Mallett was negligent because he failed to properly examine Brown, failed to recognize his symptoms and diagnose his condition and failed to begin timely treatment. Nurses Day and Goff, employed by Memorial Hermann, are named for failing to see that Brown received appropriate treatment after observing his symptoms. Dr. Cherewaty is accussed of negligence determining Brown's CT to show normal brain function. The other defendants, employed by UTMB, are accused of deliberate disregard for failing to take steps to treat Brown after observing his symptoms.

"No competent physician's assistant, nurse, LVN or mental health professional would have acted as they did," the petition states.

According to the original petition, Brown had been in prison most of his adult life but had only two weeks before being released. Brown and his wife had plans to live in Tyler where the plaintiff had purchased a house in anticipation of his release.

The plaintiff is seeking actual damages and damages for past and future mental anguish, loss of companionship and loss of inheritance and for survivor damages for Brown's physical pain and mental anguish prior to his death. She also seeks punitive damages.

the lawfirm of Bellinger & DeWolf of Dallas is representing the plaintiff.

The case as been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd in the 172nd Jefferson County District Court.

Case number: E179-058

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