BOONE COUNTY INMATE SUES COUNTY OVER MEDICAL TREATMENT

Channel 12, Reporter Jeff Hirsh, August 22, 2011

A former inmate in the Boone County Jail files suit against the jail. The lawsuit claims improper medical treatment meant she needed life-altering surgery. The county denies any wrong-doing in a story you'll see only on Local 12. Reporter Jeff Hirsh looks at the charges and shows video from inside the jail.

Jennifer Huston was in the Boone County jail last August. The video was shot by a deputy also in medical distress. "I was in a lot of pain. At first, I thought it was cramps or a charley horse. But it was far worse. My foot started to be real cold and purple."

There was a blood clot in Jennifer's leg. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital for surgery where she stayed for 13 days stay and created a huge bill. Now, Huston is suing Boone County and the county's jail medical contractor for "unconstitutionally inhumane treatment, medical negligence, and deliberately disregarding Jennifer's need for proper medication."

"We contend that they knew she needed a blood thinner, in this case Coumadin or Wafarin. They didn't give it to her for a week. She was prescribed to have one 5 mg. pill a day, which she had on her when she was taken to jail," says Huston's lawyer.

Jennifer Huston was arrested last August outside a local store, in a case that would ultimately be pled down to criminal mischief. Unable to post bond, Huston was locked up in the Boone County Jail. For a week, until the blood clot led to hospitalization, Huston's lawsuit not only claims the jail failed to give her proper meds, but says once she was hospitalized, the jail improperly released her from county custody to save money. Huston was released on her own recognizance. her lawyer explains, "When they release her they have, in effect, said that the jail is no longer financially responsible for her medical treatment the way they were beforehand."

The suit claims cutting medical costs was so common at Boone County that it "became so reliable as to create a custom of depriving inmates of their right to proper medications."

"They should have just given me my medication. I wouldn't have ended up in the hospital with the blood clot."

The lawyer handling the case for Boone County says it is normal for a judge, not the jail, to release an inmate on bond. If that inmate is hospitalized, the inmate then becomes responsible for medical expenses. However, attorney Jeff Mando says the county does not deprive inmates of medical care due to cost. Mando says, "Boone County did not disregard Ms. Huston's medical needs when she was an inmate. Jail staff secured a medical history when he was booked in and medical staff with Southern Health Partners examined her the same day. While in custody, Ms. Huston, unlike most people, had direct access to medical care 24/7. She was seen regularly during her limited stay and trained medical personnel with SHP provided the treatment and medicine they deemed appropriate."

Mando says the jailer and his dedicated staff will vigorously defend the baseless allegations in Huston's lawsuit.

Ironically, none of this would have happened if Jennifer Huston was able to post bond after being arrested. That bond was $100. Outstanding medical bills of $100,000 dollars are at stake now. The question is-who will pay?

The lawsuit asks for medical expenses plus unspecified damages for pain and suffering, among other costs. A hearing for the Federal court case has not yet been scheduled.

END OF ARTICLE