The estate of a Frankfort man who died while incarcerated has filed a lawsuit against the Franklin County Regional Jail, alleging that negligence led to the inmate’s death from drug withdrawal.
Leslie Glass, administrator of the estate of 21-year-old Dylan Harrison Stratton, filed the lawsuit recently in federal court. It names numerous jail guards and nurses, a private jail health care provider, Franklin County and Franklin County Jailer Rick Rogers as defendants. Glass has demanded a jury trial and punitive damages.
The claimed damages are $75,000, the minimum amount for a federal lawsuit. A jury could award more or less or side with the defendants.
Ron Wyatt, spokesman for the jail, declined to comment on the pending litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Stratton was taken into custody Jan. 17 on a drug charge and he reported during booking at the jail that he had high blood pressure and recreationally used drugs. He was flagged for drug withdrawal and placed in the jail’s detox cell for observation. In the following hours, the lawsuit claims, Stratton refused meals and possibly began vomiting from withdrawal.
A day later, Stratton had a seizure, reportedly from benzodiazepine withdrawal, the lawsuit states.
“He was also heard screaming and yelling, and making hallucinatory/delusional statements such as, ‘Please start the car,’” the lawsuit states. “He was observed to be rolling on the floor and tried to get out of his cell whenever jailers opened the door.”
Jail guards called the facility's medical provider Jan. 20 about Stratton’s conduct. The provider advised that he could be actively psychotic due to drug withdrawal but made no recommendation for care other than observation and the use of the jail’s restraint chair as needed, the lawsuit states.
As he appeared for a video arraignment on Jan. 22, Stratton’s condition was such that the presiding judge questioned whether he was suffering from withdrawals and was receiving appropriate medical treatment. The judge was assured Stratton was receiving medical care, the lawsuit states.
However, as Stratton’s symptoms persisted, medical staff allegedly did not examine him. Stratton was found unresponsive about 2:46 a.m. on Jan. 23 and pronounced dead about an hour later.
The lawsuit claims that jail administrators were possibly distracted at the time of Stratton’s death by an investigation into whether a jail guard, 26-year-old Brandon Price, had sexually assaulted a female inmate. Price had been one of the guards responsible for Stratton’s custody in the days before his death.
“Dylan would not have died but for the defendants’ gross, unconscionable and deliberate indifference to the tortures of his untreated benzodiazepine withdrawal,” the lawsuit states. “His body was severely bruised as a result of mistreatment by the jail’s staff, and/or his flailing about in delirium in his cell prior to his death. For a period of time after Dylan was found unresponsive and died, he lay naked in the open doorway of his cell — deputy jailers passed by the scene with nary a glance.”
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleges five counts against the defendants, including cruel and unusual punishment, negligence, battery and wrongful death. It is the second of its kind recently, both filed by the Bezley Bathurst law firm, of Prospect. The firm specializes in “prisoner rights and police misconduct” litigation, according to a recorded message at the firm's phone number.
The law firm filed a lawsuit July 16 against Price on behalf of the inmate he allegedly sexually assaulted.
Representatives of the law firm had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.