Today a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati on behalf of the family of Tommy Britt, who died November 22, 2016 after spending three torturous days at the Hamilton County Jail. Tommy was a known IV drug abuser. He was in jail on a probation violation. After a few days he complained that he was not feeling well, he was having trouble breathing, his chest was hurting, and he felt like he was going to pass out. He asked for medical help and then collapsed. A medical emergency was called, and a sergeant and three nurses immediately responded. He had to be revived with smelling salts. He begged to go to the hospital but the sergeant and nurses refused, despite the fact that his vital signs had been abnormal for two days. Instead, the sergeant ordered that he be strapped down in a restraint chair. He spent three hours in pain in the restraint chair. After his release from the restraint chair he was not medically evaluated again until two days later when he was found in such critical condition that he was sent to the emergency room. He never recovered. His family had to make the decision to remove him from life support.
“Our community is in the midst of a heroin epidemic and jails are on the front line of treating these victims,” said Jennifer Branch, attorney for Tommy Britt’s family. “It is well known that IV drug users are susceptible to life threatening infections, especially endocarditis, which affects the heart. Tommy Britt had so much infection in his heart that his aortic valve was completely destroyed. His jailers knew he had an infection – he had an elevated temperature and heart rate. Yet, they declared he was faking and strapped him in a restraint chair. He was essentially tortured,” explained Ms. Branch. “We brought this lawsuit to alert the County and the community to the need to vastly improve the medical care of heroin addicts at our jail. Tommy’s mother does not want one more parents to suffer as she has.”
The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. It will take more than a year for the case to go to trial. Read the complaint here.
Contact: Jennifer L. Branch (Jbranch @gbfirm.com)