Court affirms jury verdict arising out of fall by epileptic in Grand Traverse County jail
The Sixth Circuit recently upheld a jury's verdict awarding $212,000.00 to a young woman who fell from a top bunk while incarcerated. Jail employees acknowledged that she advised them of her need for anti-seizure medication, but that they simply left her Medical Screening Questionnaire in the Nurse's mailbox, without actually contacting the nurse. By contract, the two nurses employed by the jail were not required to attend inmates over the weekend, and the jail supervisor allowed the Screening Questionnaires to sit idle for up to 48 hours if the nurses did not schedule themselves in. The Court held that this established a policy of deliberate disregard for the inmates' Constitutional rights.
The County also claimed that the woman had not proved that her medication would have prevented the seizure that caused her to fall from a top bunk and suffer serious injuries to her hip and shoulder. The jail doctor had testified at deposition that her anti-seizure medication [Dilantin] would have been effective to prevent seizures1 to 4 hours after administration, but attempted to retract that admission at trial. The Court held that the jury was free to accept his prior testimony, rather than his trial-coached testimony (and it obviously did).