Mother of deceased inmate files federal suit against jail

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By Linda Ireland

The mother of a former LaRue County Detention Center inmate who died while in custody has filed a federal lawsuit against the Detention Center, individual county employees and the nurse who was treating her daughter.
Named in the suit are Southern Health Partners, the company responsible for providing medical care to inmates; LaRue County; LaRue County Detention Center; former jailer Ralph “Mac” Trumbo; Brandi Howson, a licensed practical nurse; John Adams II, M.D., a doctor who treated inmates; and deputy jailer Marie Flewwellin.
Humfleet Law PLC and Ward Hocker and Thornton of Lexington are representing Bernice Jones of Pulaski County in the suit.
The suit claims that Valerie Lynne Jones, 53, of Eubank, died Jan. 28, 2010, of an apparent heart attack. About 4:30 a.m., other inmates alerted jail staff that Jones had started vomiting and was having difficulty breathing. According to the suit, Flewwellin “refused to move” Jones from her cell. Flewwellin called nurse Howson who arrived at the detention center about 6 a.m.
Jones was eventually transported to Hardin Memorial Hospital by LaRue County EMS but was declared dead at the hospital.
Jones, a U.S. Army veteran, was serving a five-year sentence after being convicted of trafficking in marijuana (eight ounces to five pounds) in Pulaski County, according to court records.
The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District in Louisville, claims Jones had a history of medical problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. It further claims Jones began complaining of pain in her left shoulder, hands and leg on or about Dec. 11, 2009.
The lawsuit claims Howson, an employee of Southern Health Partners, Inc., advised her to use ibuprofen, use heat and ice and stretching exercises. Howson did not arrange for Jones to see a doctor until Jan. 25, according to the suit.
It claims further that Adams should have made rounds “on a regular basis for inmates with complaints about their health.”
It claims that policy at the time of Jones’ incarceration contributed to her death. Deputy jailers were not allowed to call LaRue County EMS without first contacting the nurse, according to the suit. “These policies caused a fatal delay in getting Decedent Jones the treatment she needed.”
An autopsy performed Jan. 28 revealed Jones died due to an “acute myocardial infarction secondary to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”
The lawsuit asks for trial by jury, compensatory damages, punitive damages against all defendants for their “deliberate indifference and gross negligence,” attorney fees and costs.
The defendants have responded to the suit, asking that it be dismissed.