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What you need to know for 03/23/2017

Claim: Schenectady County Jail to blame for 2 deaths

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Claim: Schenectady County Jail to blame for 2 deaths

An attorney is now pursuing two potential new suits related to two more recent deaths connected to S
Claim: Schenectady County Jail to blame for 2 deaths
Exterior of the Schenectady County Jail where the inmate population is housed, located on Veeder Ave. in the city of Schenectady.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

An attorney who recently won a $425,000 settlement related to a 2013 death at the Schenectady County Jail is now pursuing two potential new suits related to two more recent deaths connected to the facility.

Attorney E. Robert Keach said today he is filing two notices of claim against the county, contending two jail inmates died preventable deaths at the jail since November.

One man, Jimmy Richardson, died as an inmate at the facility last month. The other, Michael A. Revels, died in November shortly after release of conditions Keach contends jail medical staff created.

Richardson, 53, of Emmett Street, died at the jail Jan. 17 after Keach contends jail guards or medical staff missed crucial warning signs and that jail medical staff failed to give him his proper medication.

Revels, 57, died Nov. 25, shortly after being declared brain dead and released from custody, Keach contends. Keach alleges jail medical staff failed to give Revels his proper medication, causing severe bloating.

After being sent to the hospital, emergency dialysis took more than 7.5 liters of excess fluid from Revels’ body. He ultimately suffered cardiac arrest, doctors declared him brain dead, he was taken off life support and died.

In a press release, Keach called the deaths part of a “disturbing pattern” at the Schenectady County Jail. He argued five inmates at the jail died preventable deaths in the past three years.

Schenectady County Attorney Christopher Gardner could not be immediately reached for comment.

Six months prior to the start of his incarceration in September, Revels underwent surgery for kidney cancer. He then required diuretic medication to help his body remove fluid, something jail medical staff knew, Keach contends.

Keach alleges that medical staff concluded he was faking his condition. Then, at the beginning of November, his symptoms of weakness, fatigue, bloating and disorientation intensified. He also collapsed on several occasions, including Nov. 16, Keach alleges.

Jail medical staff provided him no treatment. They never sent him to the hospital until Nov. 20, when they found him unconscious again, Keach contends.

Schenectady County secured Revels’ release after the hospital declared him brain dead, Keach wrote, “thereby leaving his wife to pay his remaining medical bills.”

Keach also alleges the county failed to inform the state Commission of Correction about Revels’ death.

Regarding Richardson, he entered the jail Jan. 5, suffering from asthma seizures, high blood pressure, and a syndrome that required implantation of a defibrillator for his heart. He spent his first night in custody at Ellis Hospital.

Placed under medical supervision at the jail, Keach contends Richardson never received the required meaningful 15-minute checks.

The night he died, fellow inmates heard Richardson having difficulty breathing, “loudly gurgling” so much that no one could sleep, Keach wrote. No jail or medical staff intervened and an inmate found Richardson dead in the morning.

Based on Richardson's prior stay at the jail and fellow inmates, Keach wrote that he suspects Richardson didn’t receive his proper anxiety and asthma medication, exacerbating his heart condition.

Richardson’s January death came less than a month after the jail medical provider, Correctional Medical Care, settled a lawsuit related to the April 29, 2013, opiate withdrawal death of inmate Nicole Carmen.

The company agreed to pay $425,000 to Carmen’s family. Keach has called her death “tragic and preventable.”

Correctional Medical Care made no admission of liability or responsibility in the Carmen settlement.

U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd formally approved the Carmen settlement December, rejecting a request from the attorneys to keep the settlement confidential and sealed.

Hurd ordered the settlement be public, citing the “very significant” allegations in the Carmen case, along with “numerous prior allegations against Correctional Medical concerning similar wrongdoing.”

Correctional Medical Care reached an agreement with the state attorney general in September 2014 over allegations of understaffing and shifting work to less qualified staff.

Schenectady County started contracting with Correctional Medical Care in 2008 at an annual cost then of $900,000.

A lawsuit filed in August against Correctional Medical Care related to the May 28, 2014, Schenectady County jail suicide of 29-year-old Lucky Lee Wilkins Jr. is still pending.

The Wilkins suit alleges that he sought assistance for depression from medical staff at the jail and at Ellis Hospital, but never received any meaningful care.

More recently, 34-year-old Terrance Duncan died at the jail on Aug. 2. Duncan died that evening after being under constant medical supervision, according to the Sheriff’s Department at the time.

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