Neglect to provide necessary, life-saving medical treatment is the reason stated by a civil lawsuit against Laurel County Corrections. Laurel citizen Sandra Kay Estep, 61, has filed a lawsuit against Laurel County Jailer Jaime Mosley and Laurel County Corrections staff for her experience at the correctional facility during her 2019 incarceration.
According to the litigation, the correctional center failed to provide the administration of Estep's medication while she was at the facility from May 28 through June 1. The lawsuit states that jail records list Estep as having informed jail personnel of her high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension and arthritis.
"They didn't even get around to calling the prescription shop where she got her medications until the morning of June 1. She was booked at about 11 p.m. on May 28," said Estep's attorney, Dr. Kenneth Henry of Henry & Associates in Louisville. "You get a lot of these cases from inmates and former inmates that don't have a lot of 'meat to the bone,' so to speak. But I got to looking into Estep's case and retrieved the records from the jail. To me, it was patently obvious that her rights had been denied."
Defendant Debbie Kizito, practiced registered nurse and employee at Laurel County Corrections during the incident described in the lawsuit, apparently noted that The Prescription Shoppe in Corbin should be contacted to obtain Estep's prescription list. Kitzo also, at approximately 11:55 p.m. on May 28, 2019, was said to have ordered Estep to receive "chronic care" for her hypertension. After booking, Estep was placed in "detox" until May 29, 2019, at approximately 7:10 a.m. when she was moved to another cell in the detention center.
The litigation states that on May 31, 2019, at approximately 11:15 p.m., Estep requested to be seen for medical attention. She apparently told jail medical staff she was coming off alcohol and suboxone and that she had high blood pressure. Henry says no apparent treatment or examination occurred, noting the medical records indicated: "Patient seen in walk-in sick call. Please see previous encounter." The previous encounter referenced in the file was on May 28, 2019, three days earlier.
On Saturday, June 1, 2019, at approximately 8:37 a.m., Estep was said to have told Defendant Jamie Hart, licensed practical nurse (LPN) and detention center employee during the incident, that she was suffering chest pain, shortness of breath and weakness since two days prior. The litigation lists that Estep's blood pressure at this time was 184/115, indicating stage 3 hypertension. Defendant Kizito apparently ordered the administration of Clonidine 0.1 and an EKG. Kizito also ordered that Estep's vitals be taken every two-to-three hours.
"That [Clonidine] was not one of her prescribed medications," said Henry. "They just gave whatever they had in the cabinet of their little pharmacy there in the jail. There's no excuse for that. None whatsoever."
Estep was apparently sent to her cell by Hart with instructions "...to return if condition worsens or if no improvement." Hart also noted that she had instructed Estep "...in medication(s), dosage, administration times and the expected outcome of each medication."
The lawsuit says that at approximately 2:13 p.m., Hart made an entry into Estep's medical records that her medications were "on hold." Those medications were Duloxetine HCL 60 mg to be taken once per day; Omeprazole 20 mg to be taken twice per day; Lisinopril 10 mg to be taken once per day.
According to the litigation, Estep received no further medical attention until she was discovered suffering a grand mal seizure in her cell at approximately 6:01 p.m. She was transferred to St. Joseph London at around 7:10 p.m. At the hospital, Estep's glucose level was at 233 mg/dl; sodium level was at 132 mmol/l; potassium level at 3.2 mmol/l; and cardiac CK level was at 218 u/l. She was prescribed Ativan, Keppra, and sodium for her seizures before being transferred to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where she stayed for four days.
"They [Laurel County Corrections medical staff] were to check miss Estep's vitals every hour," said Henry. "She ended up in the hospital. This could have been prevented had they provided her medications. They were on notice that she was on blood pressure medication that she needed."
According to Henry, Estep was affected by the "understaffing and underperformance" of the Laurel County Corrections medical staff. The litigation said that on June 1, 2019, Mosley had only one LPN available to treat patients at the Correctional Center. Henry added that he believes this has been a frequent issue.
"This apparently seems to be a pattern, shamefully, at this jail, with inmate health not being attended properly," he said. "They just recently had a death, as a matter of fact. We have to bring a suit to vindicate her rights and to ensure that doesn't keep occurring at this jail."
The death Henry was referring to is the passing of 31-year-old Nathan Dewayne Daniels at the Laurel County Correctional Center on April 17 of this year. According to London Police Lieutenant Jessie Williams, who led the investigation on Daniels, his death was caused by an apparent suicide. The family of Daniels reached out to the Sentinel-Echo and stated that Daniels was on medication. They added that an inmate at the time informed the family that Daniels was requesting the medication for hours prior to his death.
Estep's litigation alleges that Mosely was aware that the "medical staffing at the Laurel County Correctional Center was inadequate." On Monday, September 24, 2018, Mosely told the Laurel County Fiscal Court: "Until our population declines, it's hard for one to see everybody and this would add to that," when requesting more medical staff be added to his budget. Mosley asked the Laurel County Fiscal Court for additional funding so that the medical needs of the inmates and detainees could be adequately met by adding a part-time LPN to provide four to six more hours per week of services.
During that Fiscal Court meeting, magistrates approved several contracts for the Laurel County Correctional Center. Mosley also addressed items concerning the jail and its operations, including renewing the then-current APRN (nurse practitioner) contract, which would add three additional hours to the current work time in order to allow for more documentation of medical services to inmates. Another item was to add another part-time nurse practitioner to the jail staff, which would provide four to six more hours.
"We're all sinners, and miss Estep certainly has her share to deal with," said Henry. "But we're also all citizens of the United States, and our rights are the same regardless. Nobody has the right to deny medication just because they're an inmate."
Defendants listed in the lawsuit also include Kassandra Hammons, LPN and employee at the detention center during the incident, and "certain unidentified employees of the Laurel County Detention Center." Estep demands a trial by jury and compensation of $1,500,000.
The Sentinel-Echo reached out to jailer Jaime Mosley, but comment could not be made at this time. The Sentinel-Echo also filed an open-records request for all documents related to Estep's 2019 incarceration, however, medical records were not received, pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(a).