A federal jury has ruled the former head nurse at the Jackson County jail is not liable in the death of a Jackson County jail inmate who suffered a grand mal seizure and died.
A federal jury issued the ruling in favor of Jona Brannan Crowley on Friday.
Dorothy Lee had filed the suit on behalf of her husband, John Morris Lee Jr., a 40-year-old jail detainee who the family says died because he did not receive the medication he needed for his epilepsy.
Dorothy Lee had filed suit against several others, including former Sheriff Mike Byrd, Jackson County and the county’s insurance carrier and others, but all but Crowley were dismissed as defendants in the case.
Pascagoula police arrested John Morris Lee Jr. on Dec. 5, 2012, on a charge of shoplifting. Lee had been unable to post bond in the case and in jail awaiting trial at the time of his death. It was his third arrest on a felony shoplifting charge.
Dorothy Lee alleged the staff should have known Lee suffered from seizures that required a daily prescription medication to prevent or control them because jail staff had provided John Morris Lee Jr. with that medication during previous stays at the Jackson County jail.
John Morris Lee Jr., the family said, had sent several requests for his medications to jail staff after he was taken into custody in 2012, but the staff never brought him the prescription he needed. The family claimed the staff at the jail routinely withheld medications from detainees.
The lawsuit alleged civil rights violations, intentional infliction of pain and suffering and gross negligence. Dorothy Lee was seeking $6 million in punitive damages and $6 million in compensatory damages.
Former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said at the time of his Lee’s death that he had approached the nurse and “asked about his medication” on Feb. 22, 2013.
Byrd said John Lee then signed a “release of information,” which Byrd said then was immediately faxed to Singing River Hospital to obtain the medication.
The day of John Lee’s death, a cellmate reportedly alerted corrections officials at 7:11 a.m. to say something was wrong with John Lee. The deputies, Byrd said, rendered life-saving assistance to Lee before Acadian Ambulance rushed him to Singing River Hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a little over an hour later at 8:23 a.m.
Byrd said at the time, “Our medical staff has documentation showing we followed all of our policies and procedures correctly.”