Man with Schizophrenia dies after being malnourished and left alone in cell for 20 days, lawsuit claims

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By VT

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An Indiana man who had schizophrenia died from multiple organ failure after starving to death while in solitary confinement where he was left naked in his cell.

This is according to a federal civil lawsuit filed on Wednesday. The legal documents state that Joshua McLemore, 29, refused to eat during his 20 days spent in a windowless, isolated cell, CNN reports.

It claims that McLemore - who died on August 10, 2021 - was "confined, naked, alone, and in a constant state of psychosis for the next 20 days."

Defendants in the lawsuit - which was filed on behalf of McLemore's estate - include Jackson County and its sheriff Rick Meyer, three jail employees, a doctor who oversaw clinical issues and procedures for the county and jail, and the company that provides health care services at the facility, Advanced Correctional Healthcare.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

McLemore had been arrested after he pulled a nurse's hair while in the emergency room. He was allegedly carried out of the hospital wearing only underwear. He was charged with battery against a public official and criminal mischief damage and taken to the Jackson County Jail on July 20, 2021.

According to a coroner's report provided by his lawyer, McLemore's cause of death was "multiple organ failure due to refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status due to untreated schizophrenia."

A history of methamphetamine withdrawal was also included in the report as a contributing factor.

The tragedy was able to take place due to "multiple acts of indifference, as well as systemic and unconstitutional deficiencies" in the county’s policies, practices and training programs, according to the legal papers filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The lawsuit also alleges that the jail did not adequately train its staff on how to handle serious mental health issues and accuses Advanced Correctional Healthcare of providing insufficient training.

In a statement to People, McLemore's estate attorney Hank Balson said: "Josh McLemore wasn't a criminal. He was mentally ill and in crisis. He was out of touch with reality and needed help."

He added McLemore was left "alone in his cell, naked, barely sleeping or eating, for almost three weeks as he wasted away in front of their eyes. This is not only unconstitutional, it's immoral."

Balson stated that McLemore was clearly "not in his right mind and was not able to care for himself."

In a statement to People, Advanced Correctional Healthcare said: "We take criticisms of the care provided by our team seriously. We are prohibited from disclosing patient information due to federal HIPAA privacy and confidentiality laws.

"Headquartered in Tennessee, ACH manages contracts to care for over 34,685 patients in more than 370 correctional facilities across 21 states. ACH's family of businesses retain 74% percent of full-time employees.

"ACH is proud to have a 95 percent client retention rate. ACH has a reputation for solving problems by doing the right thing the first time. In the last year, at least 52 patient lives have been saved."

Featured image credit: Gregg Vignal / Alamy

Man with Schizophrenia dies after being malnourished and left alone in cell for 20 days, lawsuit claims

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

An Indiana man who had schizophrenia died from multiple organ failure after starving to death while in solitary confinement where he was left naked in his cell.

This is according to a federal civil lawsuit filed on Wednesday. The legal documents state that Joshua McLemore, 29, refused to eat during his 20 days spent in a windowless, isolated cell, CNN reports.

It claims that McLemore - who died on August 10, 2021 - was "confined, naked, alone, and in a constant state of psychosis for the next 20 days."

Defendants in the lawsuit - which was filed on behalf of McLemore's estate - include Jackson County and its sheriff Rick Meyer, three jail employees, a doctor who oversaw clinical issues and procedures for the county and jail, and the company that provides health care services at the facility, Advanced Correctional Healthcare.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

McLemore had been arrested after he pulled a nurse's hair while in the emergency room. He was allegedly carried out of the hospital wearing only underwear. He was charged with battery against a public official and criminal mischief damage and taken to the Jackson County Jail on July 20, 2021.

According to a coroner's report provided by his lawyer, McLemore's cause of death was "multiple organ failure due to refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status due to untreated schizophrenia."

A history of methamphetamine withdrawal was also included in the report as a contributing factor.

The tragedy was able to take place due to "multiple acts of indifference, as well as systemic and unconstitutional deficiencies" in the county’s policies, practices and training programs, according to the legal papers filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The lawsuit also alleges that the jail did not adequately train its staff on how to handle serious mental health issues and accuses Advanced Correctional Healthcare of providing insufficient training.

In a statement to People, McLemore's estate attorney Hank Balson said: "Josh McLemore wasn't a criminal. He was mentally ill and in crisis. He was out of touch with reality and needed help."

He added McLemore was left "alone in his cell, naked, barely sleeping or eating, for almost three weeks as he wasted away in front of their eyes. This is not only unconstitutional, it's immoral."

Balson stated that McLemore was clearly "not in his right mind and was not able to care for himself."

In a statement to People, Advanced Correctional Healthcare said: "We take criticisms of the care provided by our team seriously. We are prohibited from disclosing patient information due to federal HIPAA privacy and confidentiality laws.

"Headquartered in Tennessee, ACH manages contracts to care for over 34,685 patients in more than 370 correctional facilities across 21 states. ACH's family of businesses retain 74% percent of full-time employees.

"ACH is proud to have a 95 percent client retention rate. ACH has a reputation for solving problems by doing the right thing the first time. In the last year, at least 52 patient lives have been saved."

Featured image credit: Gregg Vignal / Alamy