Dallas Jail-Dallas Business Journal
Dallas County commissioners settle jail lawsuit
Dallas Business Journal – 3:00 PM CST Tuesday, February 20, 2007
by Glenda Vosburgh
Assistant Managing Editor
The families of three mentally ill former Dallas County Jail inmates won a $950,000 settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday.
Dallas County commissioners agreed to pay the families who had sued alleging inadequate medical care at the jail. One of the inmates died in his jail cell.
Clarence Lee Grant Jr., who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died in his jail cell in 2003 after he did not receive medicine for more than four days, according to the lawsuit.
James Monroe Mims was sent to the jail from a state hospital in 2004 for a mental competency hearing. According to the lawsuit, medications that Mims required were also sent to the jail, but he wasn’t given his medication for two months. In addition, water to his cell was shut off for two weeks, and he ultimately was transferred to Parkland Hospital where he was diagnosed with dehydration, renal failure and several other acute medical conditions.
Kennedy Nickerson, who also suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was released from the jail in 2003 without medication or notice to his family. Four days later, he was found lying on a street, “near death and unresponsive,” the lawsuit stated.
“While we have settled the monetary portion of the case, we have reserved the right to intervene and seek injunctive relief from Judge Barbara Lynn if they don’t improve the situation in the jail,” said David Finn, legal counsel for James Mims.
Fort Worth attorneys Jeff Kobs and Mark Haney assisted with Mim’s case and, along with Advocacy Inc., represented Grant and Nickerson.
The Dallas County Jail is under mandate by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to make improvements or be closed. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice is pushing for improvements and could sue in federal court.
“The clients are satisfied with the result,” Finn said, “and they are hopeful that no other families ever have to go through what they have had to endure.
“I did not want to settle. I wanted to get the Mims evidence in front of a jury.”