Wrongful death lawsuit filed in case of man who died in Galveston jail

By David Hutton | Apr 11, 2017

GALVESTON – A Texas family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with the 2015 death of their son in the Galveston County Jail.

GALVESTON – A Texas family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with the 2015 death of their son in the Galveston County Jail.

Jesse R. and Diane Jacobs filed the lawsuit in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas in the death of their son, Jesse C. Jacobs.

The lawsuit names Mary Johnson, Boon-Chepman Benefit Administrators Inc., Soluta Inc. Soluta Health Inc., Care Here, the estate of Dr. Teresa Becker, Dr. Harry Louis Faust, Dr. Linea McNeel, Dr. Gary Beech, Kathy White (also known as Kathy Jean Jordan), Will George, Robin Bartholomew, Mellissa Faulk, Joe Lloreda, Monica McCray, Josephine Irogbu and Deborah Wiggins as defendants.

The Jacobs family is represented by the Lewis Law Group PLLC of Houston. They are seeking a jury trial.

According to court records, Jesse Jacobs, 32, died in police custody in March 2015 after his Xanax prescription was withheld from him.

The lawsuit states that he did not receive adequate medical care while he was held in the Galveston County Jail for eight days.

Jacobs reported to the jail on March 6, 2015, after pleading guilty a month earlier to DWI charges. He had received a 30-day sentence.

Court records indicate that Jacobs informed jail officials that he was prescribed and had been taking Xanax for a severe panic disorder. He also presented his bottle of prescription, with pills and a letter from his treating physician.

According to court records, the letter from Dr. Don LaGrone stated that it was “imperative” that he take the medications everyday.

The lawsuit notes that intake officer Joe Lloreda "made the decision to abruptly discontinue Jacobs’s Alprazolam (Xanax) medication without any tapering orders and failed to take steps to prevent any foreseeable withdrawal symptoms. He further failed to contact any physician regarding his possible withdrawals before denying him of his medication resulting in Alprazolam (Xanax) withdrawals."

Three physicians that also worked at the jail - Faust, Becker and McNeel - each signed off on Lloreda’s intake order detailing the detoxification protocol and withdrawals, the suit states.

The suit also notes that on March 9, Jacobs called home and spoke to his mother on a recorded jail call. He noted that he had not seen a doctor yet, even though Faust maintained that he had. His medical chart indicates that he was feeling “irritable, difficulty concentrating, heart racing, anxious, sweating, and moisture on forehead,” with not one symptom noted to be addressed by medical personnel.

According to court records, during his detention in the jail, Jacobs’ symptoms worsened. He suffered panic attacks, including sweating, disorientation, palpitations, nausea, panic, anxiety, and terrible seizures day after day without any emergency medical attention to prevent these symptoms, until his final day in the Galveston County Jail, when he was found on the floor of his jail cell drooling and unresponsive.

After Wiggins found Jacobs in this emergency state, and before CPR emergency services were performed, or a call was made to 911 for emergency services, Wiggins left Jacobs with the deputy to return to the clinic, the suit states.

The lawsuit contends that she "retrieved ammonia caps to use on Jacobs, despite his having difficulty breathing, in an effort to confirm Jacobs was not faking, pursuant to jail policy, and summoned another nurse, Monica McCray, who also worked overnight to return with her to Jacobs’ cell," according to the suit.

Jacobs had stopped breathing in his cell and court records note that 911 emergency services were summoned to revive him. In the interim, the suit notes that Wiggins vegan low effort chest compressions.

The suit further noted that McCray brought a crash cart, with an automatic defibrillation and attached it to Jacobs. The cart was attached and his vitals were captured. No pulse was detected and no shock was administered.

Jacobs was transported to a local hospital where he died one day later.

The suit states that jail officials and Boon-Chapman’s Soluta Health Medical Personnel refused to treat Jacobs for his seizures, except for documenting some of the seizures.

It also alleges that Jacobs suffered from withdrawal symptoms, as a result of the abrupt disruption of the medication that his body became physically dependent upon, and needed.

Moreover, court records indicate that jail officials and medical personnel ignored Jacobs’ complaints, “intentionally failed to provide medical treatment him by abruptly discontinuing his long term high dose alprazolam, and had wanton disregard, and deliberate indifference for Jesse C. Jacobs’ serious medical needs.”

Their decisions and a delay of outside emergency treatment, according to the suit, resulted in Jacobs’ death.

The lawsuit also claims that the Galveston County and Galveston County Sheriff and other defendants required the detoxification protocol action against inmates entering the jail facility by intake personnel, on a basis and standard of just “knowing it” or admission by an inmate that they are on a substance, as Jacobs did, without considering whether the individual is using the substance legally as a prescribed medication.

Further, the lawsuit claims that Jacobs’ civil rights, under the Eighth and 14th amendment of the United States Constitution "to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, to receive proper medical care, and to receive adequate medical care, while incarcerated and under the custody and control of Galveston County, at the Galveston County Jail under the supervision and control of the Galveston County Sheriff, Galveston County John Doe Jailers 1-20 and Galveston County Jail’s contracted medical providers.”

The lawsuit also contends that more than 28 medical individuals came into contact with Jacobs, and "each individual failed to address his withdrawals symptom at all, other than document them and the other two medical personnel individuals failed to adequately address the withdrawals symptoms." It notes that the medical personnel also knew the dangers of failing to ensure that Jacobs received his medication or a suitable substitute.

The lawsuit also contends that Jacobs was placed in a violent solitary cell, where he remained until he died, and had to be revived placed on life support, only to be pronounced dead the following day.

It also claims that Jacobs was discriminated against because of his disability, anxiety disorder and was denied reasonable accommodations in the jail by Soluta Health and Boone Chapman.

The suit also claims medical negligence under the Texas Healthcare Liability Act and supervisor liability. It seeks punitive and exemplary damages against each defendant as well as compensatory general damages.

In filing the lawsuit, Jacobs’ parents, as representatives of his estate, are seeking fair compensation and also hope to prevent another the occurrence of a similar incident in any Texas jail.

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