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$2M settlement OKed in case of woman who died in Nevada jail

By SCOTT SONNERMay 28, 2019

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of a drug-dependent Texas woman who died from an apparent seizure while imprisoned in a rural Nevada county jail for unpaid parking tickets has won a $2 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit, and a federal judge will monitor inmates at the jail for four years.

The lawsuit filed last year on behalf of 27-year-old Kelly Coltrain of Austin said Mineral County Sheriff Randy Adams and his deputies showed “deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs” and “ultimately caused her death” on the third day of her incarceration.

Jail officials refused to take Coltrain to the hospital across the street from the jail when they knew she was drug dependent, had suffered seizures and had requested medical attention, the lawsuit said.

The federal judge will monitor inmates at the jail as part of the settlement reached with Mineral County in February that was not disclosed publicly until last week because a judge only recently issued a final order dividing up Coltrain’s estate, lawyers for the woman’s family said.

“If they had taken her to the hospital as they were required to do when they learned she had a history of seizures, she would have seen a doctor, been medically treated, and be alive today,” the family’s lawyers, Terri Keyser-Cooper and Kerry Doyle, said in a statement last Friday.

Brent Ryman, a lawyer for Mineral County, did not immediately respond to email messages seeking comment.

Coltrain died from the apparent seizure while she was withdrawing from drugs on July 23, 2017 less than an hour after a jailer handed her a mop to clean up her own vomit then left her alone in the cell, the lawsuit said. The Reno Gazette Journal first reported on the settlement last week.

Deputies had access to video of her in her cell in the community of Hawthorne southeast of Reno, where she vomited repeatedly, refused meals, appeared to be trembling or shaking and rarely moved, the lawsuit said.

There was no legitimate reason to deny medical care “to an inmate in such obvious medical distress and leaving her unattended, lying face down and dead in her cell for more than 10 hours, ignored by all,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants’ actions shock the conscience.”

The settlement agreement said the deal was not an admission “of any fault, liability, or wrongdoing of any kind.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Reno by Coltrain’s father, mother and grandmother.

It said Coltrain, who had a history of dependency on heroin and other opioids, was especially close to her grandmother and was traveling to Reno to celebrate her 75th birthday when she was pulled over for speeding near Hawthorne.

Coltrain had no criminal history but a routine warrant check found she had unpaid parking tickets. She was booked into the Mineral County Jail where her bail was set at $1,750.

She was supposed to be checked every 30 minutes but was not and was never evaluated by medical personnel “or medically monitored in any way,” the lawsuit said.

Coltrain’s death certificate said she died from complications of drug use due to probable seizure from drug withdrawal.

The Feb. 19, 2019 agreement signed by Judge Larry Hicks states he will monitor the situation for four years to make sure the sheriff implements new policies to ensure inmates receive proper care, including new training for officers and rigid reporting requirements.

Keyser-Cooper said the federal monitoring was a “major part of the settlement.”

“Without it, there would have been no deal,” she said.

She said Coltrain’s relatives shared her concern that “if we accepted just money, there was no guaranteeing that future situations for other prisoners would not occur and future tragedies would be around the corner.”

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