Lawsuit alleges Miller County inmate who died was denied Rxs

Filing faults county, city, firm

File photo

TEXARKANA -- A federal lawsuit filed earlier this month centers on the July 2018 death of a man in the Miller County jail.

According to the complaint, Anthony Bradley was arrested July 5, 2018, in a child support matter and died three days later while in the county lockup.

The complaint, filed by Texarkana lawyer David Carter on behalf of LaShundra Bradley and Anthony Bradley's estate, names Miller County, the city of Texarkana and Southern Health Partners as defendants.

Also named are individuals who worked for Southern Health and Miller County at the time of Bradley's death. Southern Health Partners contracts with Miller County to provide medical services at the jail.

A company representative could not be reached for comment. Texarkana City Attorney George Matteson said the city cannot comment on pending litigation.

The complaint alleges that Bradley's death resulted from an unconstitutional lack of medical care.

Bradley, 47, was arrested the night of July 5, 2018, and booked into the jail shortly after midnight the morning of July 6, 2018. He complained of stomach and lower back pain at that time, and informed the jail staff that he suffered from high blood pressure and acid reflux, according to the complaint.

Bradley was seen by licensed vocational nurse Chelsey Foster on the afternoon of July 6, 2018, the complaint said. Bradley signed an information release that allowed the medical staff at the jail to identify what medications he was prescribed but Foster took no action, the complaint says.

Defendant Steven King was an administrator and supervising nurse at the time of Bradley's incarceration, according to the complaint. King was "fully aware of Bradley's needs for the medications, as the two exchanged words over the topic," the complaint says.

"Defendant King, who exercises no disciplinary authority over detainees at the MCDC [Miller County Detention Center], placed Bradley in a maximum security cell as a disciplinary measure, rather than assisting Bradley in securing his much needed medical needs," the complaint states. "Bradley never received any medications before his death on July 8, 2018."

Foster recorded a high blood pressure reading for Bradley at approximately 2:45 p.m. July 7, 2018, according to the complaint. Foster allowed Bradley to call a family member who took his medications for blood pressure and stomach issues to the jail, the complaint says.

"However, Bradley never received his medications. SHP [Southern Health Partners] staff would subsequently describe the failure to deliver Bradley his medications as due to 'a breakdown in communication,'" the complaint states.

Bradley began complaining of feeling ill and threw up in his cell about 8 p.m. on July 7, 2018, the filing says. Cellmates banged on the doors to get the attention of the jail staff, the complaint states.

"He also tried to activate the call button in [the cell]," the complaint states. "The call button had not worked for months, and was the subject of detainee grievances long before Bradley's incarceration."

The complaint faults Miller County and Southern Health for failing to repair the cell call button. According to the complaint, Bradley's cellmates and inmates in the adjacent cell banged for "several hours" trying to get the attention of the staff.

A correctional officer went to the cell at approximately 4:20 a.m. July 8, 2018, the complaint states. Another inmate informed the staff that Bradley had been throwing up blood and lying on the floor for hours, the filing states.

"On information and belief, there was no medical staff on duty at the MCDC," the complaint states.

A correctional officer moved Bradley to a medical observation cell at that time, according to the complaint.

"Again, his medications were literally in the building, but neither correctional nor medical staff took any steps to retrieve and administer Bradley's medications to him as his condition spiraled downward," the complaint states.

"According to defendant SHP internal emails, jail staff did not inform medical staff of Bradley's deteriorating condition. In other words, it appears that Bradley spent hours in 'medical observation' but there was no medical staff present to observe him."

A nurse who reported for duty at the jail shortly after 10:30 a.m. failed to check on Bradley, the complaint states. Correctional officers took Bradley to the medical department at 1:30 p.m. the afternoon of July 8, 2018, the filing states.

Bradley was having difficulty standing and breathing when he was seen then by licensed practical nurse Loni Redfearn, according to the complaint. Redfearn recorded a high blood pressure reading for Bradley but failed to give him his medications, the filing says.

"Bradley was simply returned to his cell, once again without his medications that were sitting nearby," the complaint states.

Bradley was found unresponsive in his cell shortly before 5 p.m. July 8, 2018, according to reports.

"An autopsy revealed that Bradley died from acute peritonitis due to a ruptured duodenal ulcer," the complaint states.

The complaint states that failure to maintain working call buttons in the cells is a violation of minimum jail standards. The complaint accuses the jail staff of failing to conduct hourly cell checks as required by law.

"Moreover, once video footage of the area was compared to jail observation records, it was determined that jail staff ... did not conduct visual observations as required by law. Even worse, jail records falsely indicate that the required observation checks were timely made throughout the day, even when they were not conducted," the complaint states.

The complaint seeks damages for Bradley's mental and physical pain and suffering, damages for his beneficiaries for the loss of their loved one, punitive damages and attorney fees.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas. None of the defendants has filed a response.