Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jail-death suit dismissed

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Brian OLeary, with his children.

A lawsuit against El Paso County for a death in the jail has been dismissed.

As we reported two years ago, Brian O’Leary was arrested in August 2010 for a DUI. It was O’Leary’s second DUI in a matter of weeks, and he was booked into the Criminal Justice Center. Soon after his incarceration, O’Leary began showing clear signs of a difficult withdrawal from alcohol, and was seen by a jail physician. The next day after starting treatment for withdrawal, he died at Memorial Hospital.

From our story:

The jail is investigating — standard practice when an inmate dies, says Detention Chief Paula Presley. Though Presley says she personally looks at each jail death under a microscope, she declines to speak about O'Leary's case specifically, because of the $5 million lawsuit that attorney Phil Harding has notified the county he will be filing on behalf of O'Leary's sons.

What we know about O'Leary's final days comes from documents provided by Harding to the Indy, including the medical-evaluation form filled out at his booking; a number of records relating to his medical reviews during incarceration; and the Problem Oriented Records created by the medical staff that responded to his cell after the Code Blue.

As with all inmates, O'Leary underwent a full medical evaluation at intake. Noted were his physical condition, medications, history of illness and hospitalization, dependence on alcohol, whether he was suicidal, and so on.

According to the resultant document, O'Leary's blood pressure was a bit high, but manageable. His pulse was normal. For years, he stated, he had been drinking "all I can": beer, whiskey, vodka. It was noted that O'Leary suffered from hand and joint pain, that he had "unknown heart issues in the past," and that his history of alcohol withdrawal included seizures.

O’Leary’s sons launched a lawsuit, claiming that their father's constitutional rights had been violated; last week, a judge in U.S. District Court tossed the suit.

"[The judge] was asking for facts that we did not possess because we had not started with discovery at this point," says attorney Jeff Kelley. "That facts that we knew, we made available to him."

They could move forward with an appeal, Kelley says, but that's a decision O'Leary's sons have yet to make.

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