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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Mom Blames Monterey Jail for Son’s Death

SAN JOSE (CN) - A 33-year-old man died in Monterey County Jail from lack of medical attention to his flu and pneumonia so severe he coughed up blood, his family claims in court.

The Dec. 16 lawsuit comes as the jail faces a federal class action accusing it of substandard conditions, including poor medical care.

Jacob Parenti died in jail on Jan. 15, his mother and son claim in the federal lawsuit.

They sued the county; Sheriff Scott Miller; Officer Collins; the California Forensic Medical Group, the Monterey jail's private medical provider; and the medical group's president Taylor Fithian.

Parenti developed flu-like symptoms and started coughing up blood on Jan. 10, the family says. He was serving a one-year jail term for a probation violation after marijuana was found in his car.

Though he placed two sick call requests, he was not seen by medical staff, his family says.

On the day Parenti died, Officer Collins announced sick call on the jail's D-wing, but Parenti did not respond. Collins found Parenti lying on his bunk, unresponsive and breathing laboriously, according to the complaint. After tapping and shaking him, Collins left without seeking medical attention, the family says.

An hour later other inmates "noticed that [Parenti] had stopped breathing and his face had a bluish tint," the complaint states. He died an hour later.

Monterey officials claimed that said Parenti died of a drug overdose, but his family's independent autopsy showed the death was caused by "viral influenza syndrome complicated by pneumonia," according to the complaint.

At least three inmates have died in the jail this year, the family claims.

Conditions there have sparked concern among prison reformers. A 2013 class action filed by Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, a San Francisco firm that helped spur California's recent prison overhaul, accuses the facility of dangerous overcrowding and substandard conditions, including poor medical and mental health care. The ACLU of Northern California and Monterey County's Public Defender have joined that battle.

Parenti's family is represented by Dan Stormer with Hadsell Stormer & Renick, of Pasadena. They seek punitive damages for wrongful death, constitutional violations, including failure to provide medical care and due process violations, and two counts of negligence.

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