Jail & Prison Deaths

//Jail & Prison Deaths
When the Stakes Are the Highest. Fighting for Maximum Recovery for Your Loss.
Jail & Prison Deaths 2018-08-01T12:08:54+00:00

Indiana Jail Death Lawyers

Those who have been killed in jail or prison have had their human rights and personal freedoms stripped from them. In the past decade, over 10,000 inmates have lost their lives in both city and county jails. Many of the deaths are attributed to sickness or disease of some kind, while many others are the result of negligence or abuse from prison guards or other inmates.

Whether the death was the result of inadequate or insufficient health care, or abuse or mistreatment of some kind, these men and women did not deserve to lose their lives, and now their families are left to suffer in their absence.

If you have lost a loved one who was serving a sentence, the jail and prison death lawyers of Wagner Reese want to assist you in restoring justice to your family.  Wagner Reese understands that nothing can replace the loved one you have lost, but our legal team can assist you in recovering damages so your family will not be burdened by the stress of financial difficulties on top of the emotional grief with which you are already dealing.


Wagner Reese fought for this family through over 60 depositions and 15 expert witness hirings. The case was settled after the Plaintiff obtained a third award for sanctions against the defense for not producing evidence during the discovery process.

$950,000 settlement for the family of a man who died while in police custody at a central Indiana county jail.  The young man, who had a history of alcohol abuse and was going through alcohol withdrawal which had progressed to full-blown delirium tremens (DTs), was to be monitored every 15 minutes around the clock. Jail surveillance video confirmed that he was left alone and without medication for long periods of time during his 72 hour detention.  by the time emergency medical personnel were called, he had already progressed into a coma and died shortly thereafter.  Despite the fact that the young man was not married and had no children, the settlement was well above the state tort damage cap of $300,000 applicable in negligence actions, indicating strong evidence of federal civil rights violations under Section 1983 which are not subject to the state damage cap.

$600,000 settlement for the family of a man who died while in an Indiana county jail. The man was serving a 14-day sentence for drunk driving and had a known history of alcohol dependence. Almost immediately after being booked, he began experiencing symptoms indicative of delirium tremens (DT’s), the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms observed by jail officers included delusional behavior and hallucinations. The man perished while in custody as a result of complications of this withdrawal. His mother filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against county sheriff and the jail officers who observed his symptoms. We sought recovery under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for the jail staff’s failure to adequately train the jail officers, as well as damages for deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition. Because we pursued the case as a federal civil rights claim, the case was settled for twice the $300,000 cap applicable to state wrongful death claims for adults who die without a spouse or children.

$500,000 settlement for the family of a woman who hanged herself while in a southwestern Indiana jail for a minor alcohol offense, resulting in fatal injuries. The deceased left behind young children, and the jail staffing and monitoring was brought into question, as the deceased was still alive when found, but had been left unattended for too long which resulted in irreversible injuries which caused the death.

The family of, a man who suffered with a mental illness was awarded $420,000 after their loved one died a wrongful death as the result of a police chase. The victim had his civil rights violated after police officers engaged him in a “low speed chase”, broke the windows of his car, sprayed him with pepper spray, and dragged him from his vehicle. The man was thrown down on his face and he was put in handcuffs, unfortunately he stopped breathing as the officers were subduing him. This case was filed as an excessive force civil rights claim.

$425,000 settlement for the family of a man who died while in police custody at a central Indiana county jail.  The man was arrested for public intoxication and detained.  While in a holding cell, he began to experience alcohol withdrawal which progressed to delirium tremens (DTs), a medical emergency.  The man had a seizure, and the poorly trained jailers then forcibly restrained him instead of calling for medical attention.  The physical restraint included being handcuffed with his arms behind his back, which caused our client to go into cardiac arrest and contributed to his unfortunate death.  These actions were alleged to be violations of the our client’s civil rights, including his rights afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment.  The case was settled after we conducted extensive discovery into the training practices of the jail.  As part of the settlement, the jail instituted new training policies which will reduce the chance of this happening again.


  • In 2011, 3,353 men and women lost their lives in state prisons.
  • That same year, the prisoner mortality rate rose to an alarmingly high 254 of every 100,000 inmates.
  • Only approximately 35% of inmate deaths are the result of suicide. The remainder occur as the result of inadequate health care, accidents, abuse, or neglect.
  • California, Florida, New York and Texas reported over 1/3 of all jail and prison deaths between 2000 and 2009.
  • Between 2000 and 2009, Indiana’s number of jail deaths per year dropped from 21 to 16.

Between 1998 and 2006, civil rights violation cases declined from 17% of all federal cases to 13%. Just because a declining trend is recognized, however, doesn’t mean civil rights violations are a thing of the past.

Civil Rights Violations & Prison Negligence Facts

If your loved one has been the victim of a civil rights violation, prison negligence, or jail death, the lawyers at Wagner Reese want to help you bring justice back to you and your family.

A Note About Recovery Limits

In Indiana there is statutory a cap on damages for negligence cases against government agencies or actors. The cap is currently $700,000. However, many police brutality and jail death cases involve violations of federal civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983. There is no cap on damages in federal civil rights cases, and attorney fees can be recovered from the defendant. Our attorneys understand the complexities of federal civil rights litigation and know how to plead a case so your claim is not limited by the state tort claims cap.

About our Indianapolis Jail Injury Lawyers

Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your civil rights violation or police misconduct claim with years of experience and proven results. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today 888-710-9377 for your FREE consultation!

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Steve Wagner from Wagner Reese, and I’d like to take a few minutes to talk to you about jail death and injury cases, not something that you want to talk about, and hopefully not something that you or your family are dealing with.

Unfortunately, however, a lot of people die or are seriously injured while they’re incarcerated in a county jail. This scenario happens in a number of different ways. First, you have situations of inmate-on-inmate violence where the jail might put a victim in a holding cell with a known predator who sexually or physically assaults the victim. In these situations, the jail can be held liable if they knew or should’ve known about the predator’s tendencies to assault a victim.

The second scenario we see on a frequent basis is excessive force by jailers upon somebody. A lot of times, maybe during a cell extraction or any other scenario where force is brought to bear on a victim, a lot of times tasing or physical strikes, this is a situation where if they go too far, there’s a claim for excessive force under the US Constitution.

The next claim is by far the most frequent situation we see, and that is the failure to provide medical care. Just because you or a loved one are arrested doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to access necessary and emergency medical care. Oftentimes, I see inmates with very serious conditions or injuries that are left untreated and result in serious injuries or deaths. In that scenario, the jail or perhaps their medical contractor can be held liable.

The next scenario is the most common cause of death in county jails, and that is suicide. Sometimes it can’t be prevented, but in many cases, suicide is preventable and should’ve been prevented by the jail. When someone is arrested and brought in and goes through the screening process, they’re asked questions about their mental health history, about whether they have any thoughts of suicide, whether they’ve tried suicide before. In these scenarios, if there’s enough red flags, then the jail has its constitutional duty to closely monitor that person until the risk of suicide is no longer present.

Next situation that can result in injury or death in a jail is alcohol or drug overdose. Believe it or not, many situations we’ve seen, it’s actually the jail officers that smuggle alcohol or drugs into the jail, which then can lead to a suicide or overdose situation.

Lastly is something that I personally have been an advocate for preventing for many, many years, and this is alcohol or drug withdraw in a prison setting. A lot of people don’t know that you can actually die from alcohol withdraw. There’s a very small percentage, 5% of the population that undergoes something called delirium tremens, or DTs, and it is a medical emergency. If someone goes through DTs is not taken to the hospital immediately, they’re at-risk for losing their life, and unfortunately, I’ve seen many cases where inmates have died unnecessarily while going through alcohol withdraw in a jail setting.

A lot of people think, “If this happens, there’s nothing I can do.” That’s not the case. If you call us, we will investigate your claim right away, look at the available evidence, subpoena the evidence, and decide whether or not the injury or death was preventable. We’ve had success in doing that over the years. There’s been a number of settlements our firm has achieved, verdicts throughout the State of Indiana for $1.86 million, 300,000, 900,000, on down. This is real money that can help survivors, the spouse, the children of the deceased, and more importantly than anything else, it’s about achieving justice.

If you have questions about a loved one who may have died in a county jail or someone who is injured or suffered a medical condition inside a jail, call us today for a free evaluation. Thanks for listening. I’m Steve Wagner with Wagner Reese.