Meadville Tribune

September 6, 2013

Ex-inmate settles case vs. county, jail

By Keith Gushard
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — An out-of-court settlement has been reached in a Springboro-area man’s federal civil rights lawsuit against Crawford County and its jail.

Gary L. Richardson, 61, of  24212 N. Center Road, alleged he was injured when he suffered a seizure after not receiving his medication while an inmate at the jail in November 2008.

Richardson filed suit in U.S. District Court in Erie in 2010 against Crawford County, the county jail and the jail’s medical provider for incidents that took place while he was a pretrial detainee at the jail in November 2008. Richardson alleged not having his medication caused him to suffer a seizure and subsequent fall.

The out-of-court settlement has a confidentiality agreement that bars the participants from talking about the case, according online court records. No dollar amount was listed with the settlement agreement, according to online court records.

Contacted Friday, Jeffrey K. Millin, the attorney representing Crawford County, declined comment on the suit and its settlement, citing the confidentiality agreement.

Tribune calls to Richardson’s attorney, Bonnie Kift of Ligonier, weren’t returned Friday.

Richardson was in the Crawford County jail in November 2008 on one count of  simple assault and three counts of harassment stemming from an alleged domestic dispute filed by Pennsylvania State Police. He pleaded guilty in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas in May 2009 to simple assault and two counts of harassment.

Richardson was sentenced June 5, 2009, by Crawford County Judge John Spataro to a total of two to 12 months in jail on the simple assault charge to be followed by six months probation. Richardson also was paroled from jail June 5, 2009, by Spataro with credit for two months served, but then had to serve 18 months probation.

The suit claimed the jail’s refusal and failure to provide prescribed medications to Richardson and treat and take Richardson for medical treatment in a timely manner caused Richardson’s civil rights to be violated regarding unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment; cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment; and due process of law under the 14th Amendment.

The suit named the Crawford County Correctional Facility; its warden, Tim Lewis; Deputy Warden Kenneth Saulsbery and staff members; the Crawford County Board of Commissioners at the time —  Morris Waid, Jack Preston and C. Sherman Allen; Interim Healthcare, the jail’s health care provider at the time; and Dr. Richard Moran, who was medical director for the jail at the time.

However, in July 2012, then-U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin dismissed some of Richardson’s claims.

Richardson’s 14th Amendment violation claim against all the jail defendants for alleged failure to provide medications and medical treatment was dismissed because Richardson’s claim didn’t allege personal involvement by the defendants.

McLaughlin also dismissed Richardson’s supervisory liability claim against Lewis, Saulsbery, Waid, Preston and Allen because the suit didn’t show each defendant’s personal involvement in allegedly depriving Richardson of his rights.

McLaughlin also dismissed Interim Healthcare and Dr. Moran from the claim that the conditions of Richardson’s confinement at the jail were excessively harsh and/or punitive.

The suit claimed Richardson told jail personnel he required certain prescription medications including Xanax when he was booked into the jail on Nov. 18, 2008. Xanax is a prescription anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication.

The suit claimed Richardson didn’t receive his medications from Nov. 18 through 22, 2008, and began to suffer general weakness and dizziness, and had a staggering gait and headache, with his symptoms worsening.

According to the suit, Richardson made several requests to nursing staff to be taken to the hospital, but was denied. The suit claimed that on Nov. 22, 2008, Richardson suffered a seizure, passed out and fell on a concrete floor at the jail, injuring his head, neck, shoulders and right arm.

The suit alleged Richardson suffered “substantial and permanent harms” as a result of not receiving his medications and not being taken to the hospital.

The suit claimed Richardson’s “right arm was permanently and substantially mutilated and impaired and is no longer amenable to surgical repair.” Richardson could no longer be a bus driver for disabled school children because of those injuries, according to the suit.

The suit alleged Richardson suffered because he wasn’t able to defend himself against the charges brought against him, “but instead was forced to plead guilty to what he did not do because he was so very apprehensive and unable to acquire medical treatment while incarcerated and, by pleading, could thereby otherwise be immediately released.”

The suit claimed Richardson was taken to Meadville Medical Center for treatment on Nov. 22, 2008, following his seizure and released about seven hours later, but upon his return to the jail Richardson was placed in solitary confinement for a week as a retaliatory punishment.



 Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.