Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Metro Corrections, former medical provider
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The family of a former Metro Corrections inmate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against jail employees and its former medical provider, among others, claiming negligence was a "substantial factor" in her 2012 death.
The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court Tuesday on behalf of LaKenya Porter, claims Corizon, the private company that provided the jail's medical care at the time, and Metro Corrections director Mark Bolton failed to properly train and supervise staff, who provided Porter with inappropriate medical care.
The lawsuit comes weeks after the Louisville Metro Police's Public Integrity Unit completed its investigation into Porter's July 24, 2012, death, with prosecutors finding no criminal conduct but criticizing both Corizon and Metro Corrections for their care.
While the lawsuit comes after the one-year statute of limitations on filing civil action, Brandon Lawrence, who is representing Porter's estate, said the family didn't know about the myriad problems with Porter's care until the police investigation was released in January.
"The jail gave them no information" on Porter's death, he said in an interview.
Bolton has said only that Porter, 33, died of natural causes, and neither jail officials nor Corizon have commented further on Porter's death because of the potential of litigation.
A request for comment from Corizon on Thursday was not immediately returned.
Bill Patteson, a spokesperson for the county attorney's office, which will represent Metro Corrections, said he could not comment on the pending litigation.
The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as a jury trial.
In total, seven inmates died in Metro Corrections in 2012. Criminal investigations have concluded in each of those cases, with no charges being filed.
Last year, Tennessee-based Corizon decided not to rebid for its $5.5 million annual contract, though it had been the medical provider at Metro Corrections for most of the past two decades.
According to the police investigation and conclusions from the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's office, Corizon medical staff recommended not booking Porter into jail on July 21, 2012, because of her health. She had arrived from Jewish Hospital on a stretcher, so weak she could not stand and her legs were seeping a yellowish fluid.
But Metro Corrections Deputy Director Dwayne Clark overruled the medical staff and ordered Porter to be booked.
Clark later told investigators he was not aware of how serious Porter's condition was.
Porter died later at University Hospital following a "negligent" lack of care during her 27 hours at Metro Corrections, according to the records released records from Metro police.
Porter, who had been diagnosed with liver failure and congestive heart failure, never should have been taken into jail in the first place, investigators concluded.
Officials with Corizon said Porter needed more care than the jail could provide. And during her incarceration, Porter was never given her medications.
Dr. William Smock, a forensic examiner who acted as a consultant for Louisville Metro Police in the investigation, concluded that Metro Corrections' decision to overrule three medical providers, including the jail doctor, and admit Porter to jail, "directly compromised (Porter's) health and welfare."
And he said the failure of medical staff to provide Porter any of her prescribed medication or have a jail physician evaluate her also "contributed to her death."
At 2 a.m. on July 22, the charge nurse at Metro Corrections "again" called the jail's doctor, identified only as Dr. Kad, about taking Porter to the hospital emergency room, according to police records. The charge nurse noted Porter "was not an appropriate fit for level of care at the jail," according to the police investigation. But the jail doctor "refused," saying Porter "would not be admitted" to the hospital.
In fact, it wasn't until the power went out in the jail 20 hours later -- about 10 p.m. -- that Porter was taken to University Hospital. She died there on July 24.
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