A federal lawsuit claims Franklin County jail officials denied a diabetic inmate his insulin medication and left him on the sidewalk after he became sick.
Lonnie Dugan had a blood-sugar level in the 200s when he was transferred from Benton County to serve a 40-day sentence for driving under the influence in December 2011, according to court documents.
He had a level of 855 after being admitted to Lourdes Medical Center days later.
The county denies wrongdoing.
Dugan was denied due process, had his civil rights violated and was the victim of cruel and unusual punishment, according to the lawsuit, filed by the Kennewick firm of Harkins, Swinburnson & Wagar. The jail also allegedly failed to perform its state-required duties.
The lawsuit names former sheriff Richard Lathim, his jail captain, Rick Long, and two nurses, Ilene Alexander and Connie Rode, along with the county.
Alexander initially denied Dugan his long-acting insulin despite his rising blood sugar, documents said. She also told nursing staff not to give him breakfast until at least 8 a.m. the next day so that his insulin could be monitored.
She later told staff that she was told to either take Dugan to the hospital or release him on personal recognizance if his blood sugar remained high, documents said. He was eventually escorted to the street and left, even though no assessment was done by the medical staff to see if Dugan was capable of going to the hospital on his own or if it was a medical emergency requiring an ambulance.
“Mr. Dugan was slumped over on the sidewalk with a note from Ms. Alexander pinned to his chest,” documents said. “He remained in this state until his fiance arrived. No (jail) staff member checked on Mr. Dugan while he remained on the sidewalk.”
Dugan was evaluated at Lourdes and found to suffer from several symptoms that were most likely caused by ineffective insulin dosages he received in jail, documents said.
The jail showed “gross negligence” and reckless or callous disregard for Dugan’s safety, documents said.
The nurses, who were represented by Christopher J. Mertens of Kennewick, denied in a response that they did not give Dugan adequate insulin, or that they ordered he be discharged. The response also denied that Alexander pinned a note to Dugan’s chest.
The county, represented by Yakima attorney West Campbell, denied that corrections officers were told by Alexander to not give food to Dugan.
The response was filed after Long and Lathim, who was defeated in his reelection bid last year, stopped working for the county.
The lawsuit follows one filed last year by Columbia Legal Services of Seattle, which claimed mentally ill Franklin County inmates were subjected to inhumane and barbaric practices. The county was also threatened with a lawsuit after an attorney for an advocacy group for the mentally ill was not allowed in the facility.