Magistrate Dismisses Certain Claims In Federal Lawsuit Against County

February 14, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

A U.S. Magistrate Judge has granted defense motions to dismiss certain claims in a federal court lawsuit against DeKalb County over the death of an inmate while in the custody of the Sheriff's Department two years ago.

Doris Hullett filed the lawsuit over a year ago in the death of her son, Jackie Lee Snider, who was arrested December 31, 2009 and died on January 30, 2010 after being taken from the jail to DeKalb Community Hospital. According to the lawsuit, "the medical examiner reported that Snider died of pancreatitis, which is an extremely painful and serious medical condition. If Snider's pancreatitis had been treated on or before the morning of January 30, 2010, Snider would have survived without permanent, long term consequences".

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated Snider's constitutional rights when they denied him reasonable medical care for his serious medical condition, thereby causing him extensive pain and suffering and ultimately death.

Based upon a finding that the federal court lacked jurisdiction, Magistrate Judge John S. Bryant recently dismissed Hullet's claim under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, her wrongful death claim, and her claim for medical negligence without prejudice but stated in the order that she could "pursue these claims in Tennessee Circuit Court". Hullett's claim under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act was also dismissed for lack of standing and failure to state a claim. The Court will retain jurisdiction of Hullet's state law claims for civil conspiracy and outrageous conduct as well her claim for punitive damages. The case is set for trial in December.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include DeKalb County; Patrick Ray, individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff; Kenneth Ray, Rick Smith, Jim Hendrix, Mark Nichols, Ernie Hargis, Kyle Casper, individually and in their official capacities; John Does 1-4; Renee Riddle, LPN; Robert Alan Stultz, PA; and Southern Health Partners, Inc.

Hullett is seeking compensatory damages against all defendants, jointly and severally in the amount of $750,000; an award, including loss of consortium in the amount of $750,000; punitive damages in the amount of $1,250,000; attorney fees and litigation expenses in an amount to be determined at trial; and treble damages; plus such other and further legal and or equitable relief to which she may be entitled or the court deems proper.

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