The family of Grant R. Sleeper, a former Richmond Jail inmate, is seeking $10 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the jail, the city, Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr., and several employees of Richmond Jail, after Sleeper passed away on June 26, 2010 from a heat stroke. The 55 year old was found unresponsive in his cell on June 18, 2010, with a temperature of 104.5 degrees—a couple of days later, he passed away. His family now alleges that the inhumane conditions of the overcrowded jail are what caused Sleeper to sustain a fatal heat stroke, and now they've waged a wrongful death case against anyone who may have contributed to his death.
The lawsuit alleges that the sheriff and city officials had been aware of the hazardous conditions of the jail for several years, but had failed to take any action to remedy them, and that when Sleeper showed signs of suffering a serious heat stroke, that he was not provided with adequate medical care. Richmond jail is not unfamiliar to legal trouble, as this is the second wrongful death case that they have faced since September of last year. Last time, the jail's chief physician and Sheriff Woody were unsuccessful in defending themselves against the resulting $2.4 million verdict.
Sleeper's estate is arguing that since he suffered from severe schizophrenia that the jail staff should have been aware that a mentally ill inmate "may be less likely than a person not suffering from mental illness to communicate coherently his needs to others"—meaning that even if he had felt the symptoms of a heat stroke, he would have been less likely to take the appropriate steps to handle it. If it is found that the medical staff at the jail did not provide the necessary care to save him, both through negligent regard of his pre-existing illness and/or through inadequate care after the heat stroke, it is likely that Sleeper's surviving family will be successful in their case.
To wage a wrongful death case, "the standard of proof in the United States is typically preponderance of the evidence as opposed to clear and convincing or beyond a reasonable doubt" (Wikipedia), meaning that if the family can convince a jury of wrongdoing on the jail's behalf through evidence of negligent conduct, they have met their obligation of proof. If you have suffered through the wrongful loss of a loved one, do not hesitate to take necessary action against the responsible party. In the case of Grant R. Sleeper, his estate will likely claim compensation for his wrongful death, and although a monetary settlement cannot bring back the life of a loved one, it is important for his family to seek justice—just as you should. Contact
Whitley Law Firm today for help with your case.