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Texas mother files wrongful death claim after son's suicide

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a Texas county, the sheriff and several others employed at a jail where a man took his life in 2011. The man had been in custody for over a year, stemming from several criminal charges. He reportedly suffered from mental issues, but the lawsuit claims he was not receiving necessary medications while in jail to help treat those problems. The wrongful death suit claims the county is guilty of discriminating against the man and, as a result, his mental health began to deteriorate.

The man's mother is asking for a way to force the county to report an inmate's suicidal tendencies to the appropriate medical or supervisory staff. She also wants damages for her pain and suffering, mental anguish, her son's funeral costs and wages equal to what her son would have earned had he lived and gotten out of jail. She is also seeking additional compensation, but the details of exactly what are unknown.

The lawsuit claims the man had a long history with the legal system that began when he was young. He was reportedly the victim of a sexual assault and attempted to burn the alleged perpetrator's house down. However, instead of receiving treatment for the trauma, authorities charged him with arson.

Other incidents occurred and he was offered a plea deal to serve two decades in prison for criminal charges related to an incident of aggravated robbery. His death occurred after authorities escorted him to a segregated cell after reportedly violating the rules. He threatened to kill himself, and just a few days later hung himself using a towel and a mesh bag. He did not die immediately, but two days after the attempt, he was pronounced brain-dead and ultimately died from cardiac arrest.

When a loved one dies as a result of another's negligence, whether willful or not, Texas families may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Successful litigation could result in a family receiving a monetary award. While this could be deemed as a bittersweet victory, it may help the families feel like justice has been done, potentially allowing them the ability to begin to heal from their tragic loss.

Source: Statesman.com, "Mother sues Hays County, sheriff over son's death," Ciara O'Rourke, Feb. 21, 2013

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