Pennsylvania Jail Sued Over Christmastime Death

PITTSBURGH (CN) – A woman whose father died in a Pennsylvania jail the day after Christmas 2014 has brought a federal complaint against Allegheny County.

Clarence Jewett, 52, was found face-down in his cell in a pool of his own vomit, according to the complaint filed on Dec. 16 in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Cynthia Jewett Whitlow, a resident of Birmingham, Ala., says her father was transferred to an emergency room where he died of acute peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal organs. His organs were “bathed in pus,” the complaint states.

In addition to the county, Jewett Whitlow sued Corizon, the private prison health care company, as well as the jail’s warden and deputy warden.

She says the defendants knew her father was schizophrenic and that he had a history of refusing food and water while incarcerated.

Claiming that her father’s death was preventable, the daughter calls it undisputed that Jewett “was never sent to any outside medical provider or treatment center or emergency room during his incarceration from December 16, 2014 through December 26, 2014.”

Jewett Whitlow claims that Corizon and the county had a contract in place not “to not send inmates out to outside medical providers even when it was to the detriment to the inmates, correctional staff and more specifically, the plaintiff.”

The complaint notes that an audit released 10 months Jewett’s death “revealed numerous deficiencies in the care being provided by the Corizon defendants at the co-defendants’ jail.”

Jewett Whitlow seeks punitive damages, alleging negligence, wrongful death and other violations. She is represented by attorney Steven Barth, who did not return a call for comment. Representatives for the county and Corizon also have not returned calls seeking comment.

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