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$8.3 million settlement in death of Alameda County inmate

Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, February 10, 2015
Alameda County and a company that provides health care to jail inmates agreed to pay $8.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the four adult children of an inmate who died in 2010 after sheriffs deputies stunned him with Tasers during a confrontation.The county and Corizon Health Inc., the health care contractor at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, will split the costs of the payout in connection with the death of Martin Harrison, a 50-year-old Oakland resident who died while in the midst of alcohol withdrawal. ... The deal, reached after the first week of the familys civil trial, is the largest wrongful death settlement in a civil rights case in state history, according to the familys attorneys.Under the settlement, Corizon agreed to implement changes in how it staffs jails throughout the state, including in facilities in Santa Barbara, Tulare and Fresno counties, said the familys attorneys, Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin. The terms ofthe deal will be enforced for four years by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco. ... Haddad said Corizon, in a bid to cut costs, endangered jail inmates by hiring licensed vocational nurses instead of registered nurses. Although Martin Harrison had told a Corizon nurse he had a history of alcohol withdrawal, the nurse failed to treat him properly, and Harrison went into severe alcohol withdrawal before dying at the hands of deputies, Haddad said. ... Sheriff Greg Ahern said, Were going to change the level of expertise by the nursing staff. I think were going to have the nursing staff provide training to our deputies so that we could identify these types of situations and prevent these things from occurring in the future. The countys next contract with Corizon, Ahern said, will include inmate screening at the registered nurse level.

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