WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) – A family is suing Washington County and Corizon Health, Inc. for $20 million after their daughter died at the jail.
Russell and Mary Pitkin’s daughter Madaline Pitkin died in April 2014 while in custody.
The lawsuit states Madaline Pitkin was arrested on April 16, 2014, by the Tualatin Police Department for unlawful possession of heroin. A few hours later, she was booked into the Washington County Jail, which contracted with Corizon Health for all medical services. Pitkin informed jail staff she used heroin intravenously the night before.
Later, in a health care request form to the jail’s medical staff, Pitkin said she started feeling heroin withdrawal effects and requested aid. The lawsuit states medical staff did not examine Pitkin in response to her form.
Pitkin’s third health care request form said she couldn’t keep medication, food or liquids down. In the form, Pitkin wrote she felt “near death.”
The lawsuit states Pitkin submitted a fourth and final health care request form before being admitted to the medical observation unit.
Before her final form was submitted, authorities noted she was vomiting and couldn’t leave her cell to eat, according to the lawsuit.
“This is a third or fourth call for help. I haven’t been able to keep food, liquids, meds down in days. I feel like I am very close to death. [I] can’t hear, seeing lights, hearing voices. Please help me,” she wrote.
On April 23, 2014, deputies at the jail made multiple calls to medical staff in response to her condition. After being placed in the medical observation unit, she was seen by a doctor. On April 24, 2014, she was found dead in her cell.
The only physician on staff at the jail was fired on April 23, and no replacement was available the day Pitkin died, the lawsuit states.
In response to the lawsuit, Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett released the following statement:
On behalf of everyone at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, I express my deepest sympathies and condolences to Ms. Pitkin’s family and friends. Madaline Pitkin’s death was a tragedy, and we remain committed to taking decisive steps to make sure that we have the highest level of health care available.”
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office concluded Pitkin died of “complications of chronic intravenous drug abuse.” Officials said Corizon’s medical care was “inadequate.”
The sheriff’s office said jail staff did their best to revive Pitkin after she collapsed.
In 2015, Corizon settled a lawsuit for an inmate at another jail that died in 2013 for $7 million, officials said.
“Because Corizon refuses to comply with contract provision which require they indemnify the county for Corizon’s negligent performance, Washington County will likely join [the Pitkin family] in filing claims against Corizon related to this incident,” the sheriff’s office said.
Washington County started contracting with a different medical provider for the jail in 2015.