floydcountytimes.com

Lawsuit: Jails gross, deliberate negligence killed inmate

Ralph B. Davisrdavis@civitasmedia.com

June 27, 2013

PIKEVILLE — The daughter of a Prestonsburg man who died while being held in the Floyd County Detention Center has filed a federal lawsuit against Floyd County, former Jailer Roger Webb and numerous named and unnamed jail employees, alleging her father’s death was the direct result of intentional negligence.


Amber Griffith, daughter of the late Joey Griffith and administratrix of his estate, filed her complaint June 20, in U.S. District Court, in Pikeville. In it, she asks for unspecified compensation for her father’s pain and suffering, his injuries, his lost income, and funeral and burial costs.


In addition, she is asking the court to order punitive damages because, she alleges, the violations to her father’s “constitutional and common law rights were so cruel and malicious, and evinced such a total and reckless disregard for his life and those rights, that his estate is entitled to recover punitive damages from defendants in order to deter such conduct in the future.”


According to Griffith’s complaint, her father, a former employee of the jail, was incarcerated Jan. 19, at which time he advised jail staff that he was diabetic and required five shots a day of diabetic medications Humulog and Lantus to control his blood sugar levels. However, according to Griffith, the jail administered “varying” doses of the medications “with varying frequency.” The complaint alleges Joey Griffith receive two shots on Jan. 20, three shots each on Jan. 21 and 22, and only one shot on Jan. 23.


“From Jan. 20 to the evening of Jan. 23, Mr. Griffith’s blood sugar level was never lower than 370 mg/dl and was as high as 600 mg/dl,” the complaint reads, further pointing out that a normal blood sugar level is between 65 and 100 mg/dl.


By the evening of Jan. 23, Griffith’s condition had worsened to the point that he was “complaining of chest pain, shortness of breath and/or nausea,” and he was taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center. The complaint maintains those symptoms are consistent with diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a “potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes attributable to a lack of insulin.”


After he was discharged from the hospital, the complaint says, he was taken back to jail with written instructions that he be given 25 units of Lantus once a day at bedtime and five units of Humulog three times a day before meals. However, Amber Griffith maintains those orders were not followed, and he received inconsistent doses of medication ranging from 10 units to 30 units at varying intervals.


By the night of Jan. 27, jail guards noticed Joey Griffith “was not feeling well” and moved him to Cell 40. A little more than five hours later, he would be found dead in his cell. A medical examiner would later find diabetic ketoacidosis was the cause of death.


“There is no record that Mr. Griffith was ever examined, much less seen, by a medical professional after his return from the hospital and before his death,” the complaint says. “Records suggest that the medications were administered by persons who were not only unaware of the hospital’s written discharge orders, but lacked the training and supervision to properly perform the critical medical function they were assigned in Mr. Griffith’s case.”


No hearings have yet been scheduled in the case. Amber Griffith is represented by attorney Gregory Allen Belzley, of Prospect.