Jamal Sutherland’s family sues Palmetto Behavioral Health, Wellpath

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – The family of a mentally ill man who died while in custody at Al Cannon Detention Center on Thursday filed a notice of intention to sue the facility health care provider in which he was housed before being arrested, as well as the prison health care provider.

Jamal Sutherland died in January after being repeatedly stacked and pepper sprayed by deputies at the detention center as he refused to leave his jail cell for a bail hearing.

FULL COVER: JAMAL SUTHERLAND DEATH INQUIRY

Now, Sutherland’s family are bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties involved in his death, alleging medical negligence.

According to the file, “Sutherland’s psychosis and associated symptoms worsened while he was in Palmetto’s care, including persistent paranoid behavior, aggression, hallucinations, and grandiose delusions, so he was (or with the exercise of a reasonable degree of care should have been) clear to Palmetto medical staff that Mr. Sutherland was going through a serious and continuing mental health crisis that required appropriate care, treatment and attention. In addition, when Sutherland got involved in a fight, Palmetto contacted the police and “did not seek to transfer Mr. Sutherland to another hospital or psychiatric treatment center more qualified or staffed to treat the health. Mental or Decompensatory Mental Health Crisis of Mr. Sutherland ”.

The record assumes that Palmetto “provided or did so appropriate psychiatric treatment for Mr. Sutherland.
transferred to another psychiatric treatment facility or hospital for appropriate treatment instead of calling the police and sending him to the detention center, Mr Sutherland’s death as a result of forced extraction of his cell on January 5, 2021 could have been avoided entirely.

Further, the record indicates that the detention center health care providers, employed by Wellpath, performed an appropriate psychiatric assessment on Sutherland. Likewise, the person in charge of observing the extraction from his cell “did not intervene with an appropriate level of urgency or diligence to assess and treat Mr. Sutherland when he became unconscious”.

The record concludes that “whether Wellpath had provided medical staff with the proper education, training and qualifications to safely assist detention center deputies during the forcible extraction of Mr. Sutherland’s cell and whether such staff met applicable standards of care, Mr Sutherland’s death on January 5, 2021 could have been avoided.


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