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29-Year-Old Man with Epilepsy Begs for Help, Dies in Fresno County Jail — County Sued for Failure to Provide Medical Care

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Civil Rights, Firm News, Police Misconduct

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:   August 4, 2021

Re: Doris Anderson, et al. v. County of Fresno et al.;

Case No. 1:21-at-00761

MEDIA CONTACT:: Dan Stormer, Esq. – (626) 585-9600 – [email protected]

ADVOCATES SUE FRESNO COUNTY FOR DEATH OF 29-YEAR-OLD EPILEPTIC MAN CAUSED BY DEPRIVATION OF MEDICAL CARE

The complaint may be viewed here:

Complaint

The family of Jah-Quavious “Quabo” Anderson filed a lawsuit against Fresno County and County officials on July 23, 2021. The lawsuit concerns the County’s deliberate failure to provide medical care to Mr. Anderson, resulting in his tragic death. Mr. Anderson was a 29-year-old man with epilepsy. He died in the Fresno County Jail after experiencing a seizure, which was triggered by extreme environmental conditions in the jail and exacerbated by officials who deprived him of his seizure medication and failed to provide him medical care.

On June 22, 2020, Mr. Anderson was sent to the Fresno County Jail because his family did not have the resources to immediately pay his bail. Just over 27 hours after arriving at the Jail, Mr. Anderson suffered from a seizure triggered by the 104-degree weather in Fresno, combined with lack of proper ventilation and air conditioning in the Jail. Jail staff ignored his repeated pleas for his medication and to be moved to a different housing area with appropriate environmental conditions for his serious medical condition. Jail staff failed to quickly respond to Mr. Anderson’s medical emergency when his cellmate and other individuals in the housing area called for help. Instead, when officials arrived over ten minutes later, they handcuffed Mr. Anderson while he was seizing, slammed him to the ground, and failed to provide emergency medical assistance. Mr. Anderson tragically died from this seizure.

Attorney Dan Stormer said, “It is a travesty that Quabo Anderson is dead. First the justice system failed him by requiring a bail which he could not afford.  Then the system killed him by refusing to address his serious medical condition. We seek justice for him and his family.”

Mr. Anderson developed a seizure disorder after sustaining a serious head injury in a motor vehicle accident as a teenager. He followed a strict medication regimen for his seizure disorder, and he knew that extreme heat and stress could cause him to experience seizures. Upon intake at the Jail, staff failed to conduct a medical assessment and refused to provide Mr. Anderson with his seizure medication, despite his repeated requests. The staff deliberately failed to accommodate Mr. Anderson’s serious medical needs by sending him to general population housing instead of the medical ward, which could have provided proper ventilation and air conditioning for someone with his condition.

Mr. Anderson’s death follows a 133% increase in annual deaths at the Fresno County Jail since 2011. ProPublica has reported that “[n]o other jail in California has seen a sharper increase in inmate deaths than the Fresno County Jail.” In a previous case, the Prison Law Office reached a consent decree with County officials requiring that Jail medical staff “communicate to determine appropriate housing for inmates with disabilities” and “make available all information needed to make adequate housing decisions,” as well as requiring the facility to increase its staff by 127 people. The Jail failed to follow these policies or increase its staffing, leading to Mr. Anderson’s tragic suffering and death.

Attorney John Burton said, “The Fresno County Jail has a duty to care for those who are in its custody, not callously let them die from horrendous conditions. The Jail’s long-standing failure to properly care for people with disabilities caused Mr. Anderson’s unnecessary death.”

Through their attorneys, Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, The Law offices of John Burton, and the Law Office of Thomas C. Seabaugh, Anderson’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California

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