HOUSTON – A Fort Bend County couple has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging negligence and civil rights violations in connection with the death of their son, who was an inmate in the Harris County Jail.
Kathryn Green and David Green have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with the death of their son, Patrick Green. The suit was filed in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.
The lawsuit names the following as defendants: Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Harris County Detention Officer Warner Dean Ervin, Harris County Detention Officer Michael James Mallory, Harris County Detention Officer Jennifer Wagner, Harris County Detention Officer Maria Rodriguez, Harris County Detention Officer Martinez, Harris County Detention Officer Jose M. Sanchez, Harris County Detention Officer C. C. Maltez, Harris County Detention Officer M. Vela, Dr. Michael Seale, Dr. Marcus Guice, Bobby Davis, Dr. John M. Lu, as an agent for Staff Care Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AMN Healthcare Services, et al.
According to the lawsuit, Green, who was 27 at the time, was on probation for a first-time offense of drug possession. He violated the terms of his probation and was taken to the Harris County Jail, where he was held from Dec. 31, 2014, until his death on March 24, 2015.
Court records indicate that Green had been awaiting transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to begin serving a two-year sentence. At the Harris County facility, Green was housed in a “pod” with approximately 25 other inmates. He worked on the afternoon laundry room shift at the facility.
According to the suit, the pod was dirty and not cleaned on a regular schedule. Tables allegedly were rusty and the showers and toilet were covered with black dirt and a mold-like material.
On March 19, 2015, Green allegedly asked to see a medic because he wasn’t feeling well. The suit states Green’s condition deteriorated and he wasn’t talking, moving or eating much.
According to the suit, Green was the only inmate who did not eat or drink. His bunk was close to the wall, which was composed of clear glass-like material, and near the door to the pod. The door to the pod was also of clear glass-like material, so he was visible to correctional officers who were responsible with watching over the inmates in the pod.
By March 23, 2015, the suit states Green could not get up to report to his work as a trustee. While the other inmates went to work, Green was the only inmate left in the pod. The guards purportedly were required to physically enter the cell nine times per day. Other inmates told correctional officers that Green was very sick, but they allegedly didn’t seek any medical care for him.
Throughout the day, Green’s condition allegedly continued to deteriorate. A fellow inmate tried to get the attention of corrections officers, but his efforts were ignored, according to the suit.
The next day, as Green’s condition deteriorated even further, additional calls by inmates for help were not answered.
Green again did not report for laundry work and nobody came to find out about his inability to report or his condition.
Later on March 24, 2015, Green tried to get to the water fountain, but was stumbling. A fellow inmate tried to help him and noted that he was incoherent, pale and could not stand. He also was having seizures.
The lawsuit alleges that several inmates began to buzz the guards, but the guards ignored their calls.
Several inmates started banging on the glass walls between the pods and the picket and two inmates held Green up to the glass to show the guards how sick he was.
At that point, the suit states Harris County Detention Officer Warner Dean Ervin put his foot in the door of the cell, spoke with the inmates promising to come in and check, then immediately slammed the door and left.
About 15 minutes later, Ervin approached Green, who was motionless on his bunk. He allegedly kicked him five times, but Green did not respond.
The suit notes that fellow inmates pleaded with the guard to stop kicking Green, and Ervin and another guard then did nothing. About 30 minutes later, a stretcher was brought in, Green was allegedly cuffed to the stretcher and he was removed from the pod.
The suit also alleges a delay in medical treatment by Harris County Jail medical providers.
Green was taking to the jail clinic unresponsive, but the suit alleges that no physician was summoned.
At 8:30 p.m., Green was transported by EMS to Ben Taub Hospital. The EMS did not use lights and sirens on the way to the hospital.
Green suffered cardiac arrest at the hospital and was pronounced dead at 11:59 p.m., on the eve of his 28th birthday.
The suit states that the Harris County Medical Examiner determined that Green’s cause of death was acute bacterial meningitis. At that time of his death, he had been in the custody and care of Harris County Jail for nearly three months.
The suit states that jail medical personnel are trained to watch for viral and bacterial diseases, which can be a danger in institutional environments.
The suit also states that the jail has a history of ignoring medical needs of prisoners despite being put on notice by a Justice Department report in 2009.
According to the lawsuit, the jail suffers from a lack of training and is understaffed and lacks adequate numbers of qualified doctors. Staff allegedly also hasn’t been trained to spot patients who truly are sick.
The lawsuit contends that the lack of training of jail staff and medical personnel contributed to Green’s death.
The suit alleges civil rights violations under the Fourth, Eighth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution; negligent hiring, supervision, retention and vicarious liability.
The lawsuit requests a jury trial and seeks punitive damages and all fees and costs as well as other relief that is reasonable.
The Green family is represented by Randall L. Kallinen of Houston.
Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case 4:17-cv-00905